How does Putin see the world

Russia: Putin's system will abolish itself

At his annual press conference on Thursday, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin presented himself as a democratic president of a democratic country who is available to answer questions from the free media. Of course, it is clear to everyone involved that Putin's appearance after 20 years in power is nothing more than a tired staging, made more difficult by the pandemic - this time the Russian President was connected via video conference.

In a country where the state gives the line to the media with the greatest audience, every question and answer session becomes a PR event. A man who, after 20 years in power, has abolished all public policy, wants to present himself as accessible, even downright liberal - as at his first major press conference in 2001 when Putin was 48 years old.

Of course that's wishful thinking. The press conference today is a ritual that even Putin seems to be bored with. In 2020 he will be a veteran retired autocrat whose power is irrevocable. In the summer he put constitutional amendments to the vote that would enable him to rule for life. However, Putin has a problem. The system he has built is gradually shaking its own foundations. The more power Putin and his circle of intelligence agents and oligarchs concentrate in his hands, the more openly the contradictions and unintended side effects of their authoritarian style of government come to light - which the Russians do not miss.

The Duma, Putin's democratic fig leaf,