Staunton, November 22 – Faced with record capital flight and the worsening of economic conditions in Russia, Vladimir Putin senses that a color revolution is approaching in Russia, an awareness that is behind both his calls for a defense against it and his statements about Russia’s victory over Napoleon 200 years ago, according to a Warsaw commentator.
In an article in yesterday’s “Gazeta Wyborcza,” Andrzej Kublik points out that in October, capital flight from Russia reached 28 billion US dollars, the largest monthly outflow this year and one that has accelerated with the continuing decline of the price for oil (wyborcza.pl/1,75477,17004225,Rekordowy_odplyw_kapitalu_z_Rosji__A_Putin_grozi__kolorowym.html).
Not only did that bring the total for capital flight from Russia so far this year to more than 100 billion US dollars, Kublik says, but it prompted the Russian Central Bank to raise its forecasts for capital fight over the next three years to nearly twice what it had been predicting up to now.
In raising its forecasts, the Moscow bank referred to “specific factors,” a euphemism for the crisis in Ukraine and the introduction of Western sanctions that has followed. Kublik suggests that this has gotten Putin’s attention and prompted him to make two declarations, one which has attracted a great deal of attention and a second which has not.
In the first, his speech to the Russian Security Council, Putin spoke openly about the dangers of a color revolution in Russia, something that he said would happen not because of the feelings of the Russian people whose expectations have been violated but because, as elsewhere, of the foreign “interference” in and manipulation of Russia’s domestic affairs.
What has happened in Georgia and Ukraine, Putin continued, is for Russia “a lesson and a warning, and we are required to do everything necessary so that something similar will never occur in Russia.”
In the second, his remarks at the dedication of a statue to Tsar Alexander I on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the end of the war with Napoleon, the Kremlin leader said, “Victory [in that conflict] was a global triumph of Russia,” one that “defined the fate of Europe for a lengthy period.”
What Putin did not say but very well may have been thinking about was that that Russian victory was followed by the Decembrist uprising and its suppression and the heavy hand of Nicholas I both inside the Russian Empire and as part of the repressive Holy Alliance across Europe – until both those systems passed away with his death and the first Crimean War.