Ivan Davydov

An authoritarian leader does not know what to do when faced with a real problem.

The question of where in the recent statement by Vladimir Putin rode the Pechenegs very tricky. Sands, though a diplomat by training, but also got in a difficult situation. If you admit that it was the work of assistants, it turns out, the assistants over Putin openly bullied. And if you recognize that Putin himself remembered the warlike nomads, it’s time to think seriously about what the psychological state of crisis driven leader. Sands chose the second option. Maybe just lie decided not to.


They write that Putin’s remark about “coronavirus infection” — a paraphrase of the famous speech of the lawyer Fyodor Plevako (1842-1909), who defended some lady who stole the kettle: “a Lot of troubles, many tests had to endure Russia for its more than thousand-year existence. Pechenegs plagued her, Cumans, Tatars, poles. Dvunadesyat languages had descended on her, took Moscow. All suffered, overcame Russia, but matured and grew from the trials. But now, now… the Old woman stole an old kettle with a price of thirty cents. Russia certainly will not stand, so she will die forever”.

That’s not true. In the collections of judicial speeches Plevako you of this quote you will not find. The true source is a short essay Vikenty Veresayev “Lived in Moscow most famous lawyer Plevako”. There a few more jokes, but that why-that was especially popular in the Soviet times. Even in tear-off calendars were printed — as an example of the struggle of progressive intellectuals for the happiness of the working people. Putin is still something and like something learned by education a lawyer, and with an anecdote about Plevako experienced certainly not once and not twice.

Moreover, it is this anecdote obviously like. Exactly ten years ago, in a speech about forest fires, the smoke of which has covered the country, Putin has already been mentioned of warlike nomads, “And the Pechenegs Russia tormented, and Cumans, and the dogs-knights, and the Great Patriotic war we went through. Russia survived, all survived. And now, of course, also test. It is not universal, it is not an invasion, but it is test. And of course, we shall overcome. But only if we work consistently, work effectively, with full responsibility for the assigned country business.”

It is curious, by the way, to compare. Have said before that Putin greatly reduced the list of enemies, lost somewhere Tatars, poles and Napoleon. Even argued that this is due to reluctance to offend the “European partners”. But, as you can see, the list before was varied. In 2010, Putin easily moved from historical memories to the standard kantselyarita, and this is an important sign. It shows that he was quite sure of himself, and the victory no doubt.

In 2020 he remained within the fantastic structure of speech — note the word order in the phrase “coronavirus infection”: it’s not a modern leader appeals to the people, here for the latest trendy name of the virus clings to an archaic “infection”, then the story is belinnik glib.

Or not very talkative and obviously confused. Who not only read, but also seen the appeal, not going to argue.


The President has a whole staff of speech writers. Officially, however, they are called referents. In the presidential administration has a special Department — “Referrentur the President of the Russian Federation”. There is a chief referendary — now it is Dmitry Kalimulin, there are senior assistants, there are ordinary. Kalimulina (by the way, he managed in the first half of the nineties even in the structures of Gusinsky to work, and in referantur AP is working since 1997) Putin, apparently, completely trusts. He heads referenceno since 2004. Going from presidents to Prime Ministers, Putin took it with him, and in 2012 after Putin returned to his former position in the PA.

Message — chief of the year in a public speech of the President. It referrentur only ratuit, but for the main points fighting almost all expert institutions, close to the Kremlin and the presidential administration and the government. The final content determines Putin himself, he, after the instructors supplements the text in various rhetorical ornaments on their own special taste. If a multipage work of the expert group in the final version gets at least a paragraph of text, the experts consider themselves people and even influential policy makers of the state.

Any long speech Putin — is the fruit of the invisible to the wider public fights that lead between his entourage. And where is the President? First, of course, in key themes. Until recently he was quite an authoritarian leader and said only what he considered right.

Recall, for example, about topics that everyone cared about until recently. Sources claim that the final scheme of constitutional reform in the form in which it was set out in the letter-2020 — own scheme of Putin. Here the struggle began not before, but after the Message, the scheme eventually changed, and for the solution of problems with the preservation of Putin’s presidency in 2024 was selected as the most simple, the most controversial and a risky option (speech by Valentina Tereshkova in the Duma was not really improvisation, but it was prepared quickly, and knew about it only a narrow circle of confidants).

But secondly (and this is no less important if we want to understand exactly who we are governed almost completely), the real Putin in the reservations, jokes, quotes and rhetorical ornaments, which his speeches are famous for. Here he is, in fact, quite true to himself for decades — sharp, with a bit of feigned attraction to simplicity and domestics humor. There are arguable opinion that it is one of the factors of his success, a way to show people that he is your. The same. Understanding real life.

“Soak in the toilet”, “pain in the wall”, “grandmother’s eggs” — there is something to remember.

And, of course, it is important to record that Putin in his speeches quoted. He reads a little, but thoughtfully and without special humanitarian training, clearly lends itself to the charm of someone else’s text, subject to its authority. At different times, important sources of knowledge for President were the works of the philosopher Ivan Ilyin (luxurious edition of “Our task”, if I’m not mistaken, gave Putin Nikita Mikhalkov, a large and not particularly knowledgeable fan of Russian conservative thought), the writings of Nicholas Berdyaev, Karamzin’s “History”. Quite recently — remember and believe — the main reading for his collection of archival documents justifying Stalin’s diplomacy. He’s even the article about the real causes of the Second world announced, only to write not yet.


The situation in the country and the world is changing rapidly, and not for the better side of humanity. Policy now dictates the virus, to argue Putin has no longer about the glorious heroes of the great Patriotic war, but to act — often. The less, therefore, the room for maneuver of the referents, and the more public discourse of the “real Putin”.

I had to read that “the Cumans and Pechenegs” is a brilliant rhetorical gem, which allowed to divert attention from the real content of the speech. But let me, because there’s nothing to distract the attention of the: well-deserved gratitude to the doctors, small handouts to the less developed, the old fear of not being able to call a spade a spade, unwillingness to go on real measures that could save the economy…

And the desire to shift the maximum of responsibility on the shoulders of subordinates, and all the obvious confusion. And here’s to the confusion Pechenegs, having come from the ancient yellowed leaf of the calendar, the attention attracted.

The authoritarian leader, torn to decide the fate of the world doesn’t know what to do when faced with a real problem. And remember a moderately funny joke that recalled ten years ago. And looking through the screen on the flock: so sad, good-naturedly. Like if he asks for help.

The ratings, however, as the report of the court sociologists have shown steady growth. But it seems that Putin is not particularly believe.

Ivan Davydov, newtimes.ru