What does Putin believe in?
It’s hard to tell. Walter Laqueur, a political scientist, suggests there is no such thing as Putinism beyond “nationalism accompanied by antiWesternism.” Others describe Putin as a gangster at heart—his private fortune is estimated to be in the billions. But though he is no communist, Putin has been consistent in his view that the breakup of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century. Putin has reportedly told aides that “the greatest criminals in our history were those weaklings who threw the power on the floor—[Tsar] Nicholas II and [Mikhail] Gorbachev—who allowed the power to be picked up by the hysterics and the madmen.” Putin has vowed never to surrender power to the rabble.