Putin was raised with the totalitarian values of the Soviet Communist Party from birth to age 23, and lived as a KGB agent until age 37, forming the foundation of his humanity.He then rose quickly through the ranks as an executive in the administrative departments of the city of St. Petersburg and the Russian presidential administration until he became president at the age of 47. This was during the dark days of the 1990s, when Russia, once a superpower under Yeltsin, had fallen into the shadow of its former self. He experienced this humiliation from the age of 37 to 47 when he was in his prime.
Since assuming the presidency, Vladimir Putin has been pursuing a succession of initiatives to restore Russia to the “superpower” it once was. Putin has not suddenly become more authoritarian now because he invaded Ukraine in 2022. He has always been an authoritarian by nature.
Six steps Putin has taken
The main measures that Putin has taken since becoming president are as follows.
(1) Invasion of Chechnya to project the image of a strong leader
During his time as prime minister, before becoming president, Vladimir Putin had the FSB carry out a self-staged terrorist attack in the guise of the Chechen Independence movement, which he used as a pretext to launch a military invasion of Chechnya. At the same time, he falsely publicized the Chechen Independence Party as a vicious terrorist group in Russia, and succeeded in creating the image of a “strong leader who fights terrorism.”
(2) Strengthening dictatorial power by heavily employing associates from his KGB days
When Putin became the supreme power, he appointed his old friends of the same generation who had spent their youth together in the Leningrad branch of the KGB. He gave them the key positions in the security and intelligence agencies, first seizing control of these powerful organizations. Then, Putin further strengthened the authority of these organizations and created an influential power structure to serve as the president’s pawns. He also made them and his close associates, including his former deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, occupy key positions in the administration.
(3) Control of the media and brainwashing of the people
The month after his inauguration, Putin arrested Vladimir Gusinsky, the upstart conglomerate known as the “media baron,” and took control of its media outlets. He continued to control most of the other major media outlets in the country, transforming the entire domestic media into his propaganda machine. The FSB also intervened on Internet social networking sites to spread patriotism and nationalism, brainwashing the public into worshiping Putin as its “strong leader.”
(4) Ousting the oligarchs, a newly emerged conglomerate that was its biggest rival.
The oligarchs, who had become powerful by illegally acquiring state assets during the Yeltsin era, were eliminated by the combined efforts of the security and intelligence agencies, which had strengthened their authority, by sending them to Siberia or effectively deporting them. This was greatly supported by the Russian people, who were struggling to make ends meet during that era and had grown increasingly antagonistic toward the oligarchs. However, Putin has sent his own aides to replace those former oligarchs.
(5) Declaring patriotism as the guiding principle of the state and turning totalitarian
Instead of the socialism of the Soviet era, Putin propagated an exclusive and parochial “Russian nationalism” and used the far-right crowd mentality to strengthen his support base. He also declared “patriotism” to be the sole guiding principle of the state and formally introduced a system of patriotic education in child and military education. He promoted the revival of totalitarianism in Russian society.
(6) Incitement of hostility toward the U.S. and other Western nations
Putin mobilized the official media, his own propaganda machine, to spread propaganda that the enemies of “Great Russia” are the United States, and the rest of the Western world. At the same time, he spread distrust of liberal Western values such as freedom, democracy, and the protection of human rights.
Like Hitler, it was an overwhelming propaganda force.
These methods used by Putin are the same as those used by Hitler. To gain enthusiastic public support and seize dictatorial power by preaching “the superiority of the German nation” to the German people, who were struggling to make ends meet. And by making propaganda speeches that the source of the problem was “the enemy from the outside”. Moreover, after seizing power, he controlled the media to brainwash the people and suppressed opposition with a powerful security and intelligence apparatus. This is the same as the Nazis.
Thus, Putin was a dangerous figure from the moment he came to power in Russia.
He initially strengthened his own dictatorial power within Russia, and he used coercive methods to suppress, kill, and oust “enemies” he had set up, such as the “Chechen dictatorship” and the “Yeltsinist oligarchs”.
In the 2010s, just as the U.S. was abandoning its role as “world police” due to the damage caused by the Iraq War, the U.S. invaded Crimea and the Donbas region, acting like a king-like figure in Russia. He intervened militarily in Syria to support the Assad dictatorship and conducted large-scale intelligence operations in the U.S. presidential election. He has openly embarked on a challenge to destroy the international order, which had been created mainly by the G7 nations.
For Putin, this is also a battle to redeem the humiliation he suffered from the age of 37 to 47 and to regain “Great Power Russia”. But the fight is a self-serving one that only he and his inner circle can understand, and there is no justice in it. Putin’s war, like Hitler’s, is a war that destroys the lives of many innocent people and destroys their livelihoods.
And like Hitler, Putin is probably unaware of his injustice. But in the eyes of the international community, he is nothing more than a “madman” wielding a powerful position of authority.