Putin’s Big Moment Is Reduced to a Familiar Irrelevance

15 May 2018

(EDM) President Vladimir Putin planned his fourth inauguration, held on May 7, to perfection. Like each Russian presidential inauguration since his first, it was timed to come just a few days prior to the traditional military parade on Victory Day (May 9). His hope was probably for these two big pompous shows to break the stream of bad news that had bedeviled Russia since his carefully controlled re-election in mid-March (see EDM, March 19). The deadly fire in Kemerovo brought a wave of public outrage that coincided with protests against the toxic garbage pits in the Moscow region; and the diplomatic row caused by the chemical attack on British soil overlapped with the agitation caused by the United States’ sanctions against Russian officials and oligarchs. Putin had sought to produce some positive agenda, but the flow of damaging events continues unabated. The brutal suppression of protest rallies across Russia on May 5 made for a stark contrast with the triumph of street power in Armenia, which took Moscow by surprise. Perhaps most symbolically, an Su-30SM fighter crashed in Syria on the eve on Putin’s inauguration, and a Ka-52 helicopter crashed a day before the Victory Day parade, with two lives lost in each case (Kommersant, May 8). [...]

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