After the adoption of amendments to the Constitution of Russia, among which there was a clause on “zeroing out” the presidential term, the Western press (for example, a publication such as the Financial Times) immediately began to compare the current leader of our country, Vladimir Putin, with the Secretary General of the CPSU Central Committee Leonid Brezhnev - they say , he’s also going to “rule for life”.
In addition, on the basis of a similar, let's say, controversial statement, an attempt is made to draw even deeper parallels regarding the "inability of the current Russian government to implement far-reaching reforms" and, therefore, declare the time that Vladimir Vladimirovich was in the highest state post identical to the "Brezhnev era of stagnation."
Paper is known to endure everything. In the Western media, far more delusional maxims sometimes slip in relation to our country - and nothing. Nevertheless, the question of comparing the two leaders is quite interesting in itself. Well, let's try to figure out independently what Vladimir Putin and Leonid Brezhnev have in common, and what distinguishes them from each other in the most dramatic way. Believe me, some answers to this question will surprise you very much ...
About the similarities
I will make a reservation right away - I do not intend to start our conversation with particulars, such as comparing the number of orders of our heroes or their personal preferences regarding relaxation in the bosom of nature. Yes, we will definitely note that Vladimir Vladimirovich, fortunately, is deprived of the passion that gripped in the last period of the reign and life of Leonid Ilyich for various awards and high military ranks, but is this the main thing? Let's first look at similar moments in political careers of Putin and Brezhnev.
1. In his fateful moments ...
We admit - both Vladimir Vladimirovich and Leonid Ilyich were in the role of “first persons” quite unexpectedly for their fellow citizens, and in many ways for themselves. Brezhnev was at the helm of the party and the country after Khrushchev’s removal. Boris Yeltsin “handed over” Russia to Putin, realizing the utter impossibility of continuing to be in power. In both cases, the newly appointed (or newly elected) leaders inherited an extremely difficult legacy. One can argue for a long time who caused the most harm: Khrushchev, who almost ruined the USSR with his wild “reforms” or Yeltsin, who brought Russia to the pen, as they say. Moreover, blood remained on both “predecessors” - the only difference being that Nikita Sergeyevich shot and crushed tanks of his fellow citizens in Novocherkassk and Gori, and Boris Nikolaevich allowed himself the same in Moscow. Another common point - “in the arms” of Putin turned out to be a war in Chechnya, Brezhnev was destined to prevent very similar in nature “separatist” processes on the scale of the “socialist camp” by introducing troops into Czechoslovakia. The devil knows who was harder in this regard. Both managed, however.
2. People in uniform
Someone may be outraged - they say it’s incorrect to compare Brezhnev’s military past and the service of Vladimir Vladimirovich in the KGB, but personally I don’t think so. A man either wore epaulettes - or not, and for those who understand the essence of the matter this says it all. Yes, Leonid Ilyich personally took part in the battles of the Great Patriotic War, for which he has eternal honor and glory. Nevertheless, in his military career he always remained a political worker and did not rise above the post of deputy chief of the Main Political Directorate of the Soviet Army and Navy. Putin, as we recall, was the head of the Federal Security Service of Russia, and, let’s say, at a far from the easiest time for the country, that is, he’s grown up in post "No. 1" in his "native" department. Without a doubt, in the future leadership style of both leaders, time spent “in the ranks”, a habit of strict discipline, a coordinate system in which orders are not discussed, but executed, played an important role. Regarding Brezhnev, we, of course, are talking about the “early” period of his reign, when he was an active and tough leader, and not about the time when, with all his regalia and ranks, he was just a sick old man, who actually eliminated himself from the real leadership of the state, and even incapable of exercising it physically.
3. Economy must be...
“Collapse” is the word that can determine the situation in the economy, which has become the starting point for both heroes of our conversation. The bald Kukuruznik brought the Soviet Union to the brink of starvation, in the conditions of which the West had to buy grain for gold and crossed out the vast majority of Stalin's brilliant business plans and undertakings. What Russia has come to under Yeltsin - everyone remembers perfectly - there is no need to repeat. The “Brezhnev stagnation” is now mumbled mainly by the adherents of the “perestroika” who have not come to mind. By the way, this vile term itself was invented by none other than Gorbachev personally, the great, so-so, “reformer”. The "Brezhnev" eighth five-year plan (1966-1970) is called true economists by the name "golden", which marked the rapid rise of the national economy in the USSR. And this despite the fact that in 1967 the “five-day period” familiar to all of us was introduced in the country. An increase in the population of the USSR by 12 million people, an increase in population’s income by one and a half times, more than 160 thousand people who received free (!) Housing is “stagnation” ?! An increase in the gross social product by 350% during the eighth five-year period alone, every second airliner and every third car in the world produced in the USSR is “stagnant” ?! Only those who destroyed it tell about the “poor and hungry” Soviet Union. In the same way, under “Vladimir Putin’s hardships and deprivations”, subjects like to forget the horrors of the 90s with their unemployment, banditry, poverty and other “charms” like to speculate. With both leaders, it has become easier and more satisfying for most people.
Well, well - we talked about coincidences, now we will discuss the differences. They, of course, are much larger, they are much deeper and more serious than similar points - after all, the leaders we are discussing after all led, by and large, in different countries and at completely different times.
1. Our difficult years ...
Those figures in the West who write that as a result of amendments to the Constitution “the Russians will receive a new Brezhnev,” our history, as usual, knows in the most superficial way. I hasten to upset them: Vladimir Vladimirovich is already at the highest state posts more than the "dear Leonid Ilyich." 20 years against 18. And, as we see, he walks and speaks quite vigorously, has no health problems. As well as making decisions and personal participation in the leadership of the country. The fact is that, unlike Brezhnev, who took the post of First and then General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee at the age of 60, Vladimir Putin became president of Russia at 47. However, of course, this is not the only reason. Brezhnev’s health was extremely negatively affected over the years by both frontal shell shock and his heart attack in 1952. And he led a lifestyle far from being as healthy as our current leader: judo was not fond of, but with the strongest cigarettes "News"And his beloved Zubrovka, he never parted almost to death, despite the strictest ban on the Kremlin’s doctors after his clinical death in 1976. Well, do not forget that medicine, as well as ways to maintain active longevity, have greatly improved since Brezhnev. Let's hope that to his 70th birthday, which is just around the corner, Vladimir Vladimirovich will come in much better physical shape than Leonid Ilyich, who from this age began to take in front of his eyes.
2. Without a party, but with the oligarchs
Comparing Putin’s rule (especially his initial period) and Brezhnev’s times, it would be completely incorrect not to mention the most fundamental difference, perhaps. Leonid Ilyich got a state with a one-party system, the role of "leading and directing" in which no one seriously contested to challenge. Opposition? Mass protests? What are you talking about ?! Moreover, in the country there were virtually no social groups or clans that its leader could seriously fear. Yes, I don’t argue, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU was that terrarium, “undercover” intrigues were laced, the struggle for power was waged, but all this happened, so to speak, “within the framework”. The oligarchs of the early 2000s, who imagined that the whole country was not just their patrimony, but in the most literal sense of the word, were much worse then party and state bonuses. And then, you see, some president ... I don’t want to belittle at all the merits and merits of Leonid Ilyich, but I don’t know if he could have resisted the struggle for real power in the state that Vladimir Vladimirovich had the chance to lead at certain stages of his careers. It’s one thing to manage a country in which, in fact, there is the Pravda newspaper, the Vremya program and somewhere underground, samizdat coupled with “enemy voices” muffled to the limit in the form of Western radio stations. And it’s completely different to lead the age of the Internet, with the help of which, as experience shows, “specially trained people” are able to rock the situation to riots and a coup d'etat.
3. The Cold War and the offensive on Russia
It is difficult to say which of the two leaders was a big disappointment for the West. Brezhnev was perceived there as a good alternative to the aggressive idiot Khrushchev, either knocking his boot on the UN rostrum and promising to “show Kuzkin’s mother”, and then arranging quite real crises, like the Caribbean and Berlin crises, threatening to escalate into a thermonuclear world war. Leonid Ilyich was much more peaceful, he even signed agreements on the reduction of strategic offensive arms and the non-use of nuclear weapons. The relations between the USSR and the West improved significantly under it, and not at all at the cost of surrendering national interests. However, in the end, after everything went to pieces, Reagan declared the Soviet Union an "evil empire" and sanctions fell on our country, which is typical, aimed mainly at disrupting projects to build pipelines to Europe. Nothing changes ... From Putin, on the contrary, they expected the continuation of the foreign policy of his predecessor, who was ready to give the country "for a glass of praise" from the West. And what is he ?! That "Munich speech", then "Crimean Spring", and then a promise to embed "in the centers of decision-making" with a substantive demonstration of what exactly they will beat. The difference here is that Brezhnev was a Soviet leader and he was not expected to surrender even during the Cold War. But Vladimir Vladimirovich "mixed the cards" for our "dear partners", who are accustomed to seeing Russia as a submissive performer of their will, and in the most unceremonious way. That is why today the West is challenging not just Russia's right to an independent foreign and domestic policy, but, in fact, to exist as a sovereign state. And Putin is perceived there as a much more serious opponent than Brezhnev. They see in him not just an opponent - an enemy.
4. In war, as in war
Despite the fact that Leonid Ilyich advocated "world peace", the development of the Soviet military-industrial complex was in full swing in his days and he did not hesitate to use force outside the USSR - even if he did it extremely rarely. The most serious military conflict in which the Soviet Union had a chance to participate in the Brezhnev era was Afghanistan. It began during the life of Leonid Ilyich in 1979, and ended after he was gone. A direct analogue for comparison here may be the company of the Russian army in Syria - this is where for the first time since leaving Afghanistan our troops have been performing an international duty. The difference, you see, is colossal, and in everything. What is the timing of the campaign, what is the achieved results, what (and this, in my opinion, is the most important) on the scale of losses suffered by our soldiers. Alas, there are no wars without the dead. As, incidentally, there are no great powers that do not lead them away from their own territory - in the order of observing allied treaties and pursuing their geopolitical interests. Nevertheless, the main mistakes and miscalculations made by the military and political leadership of the USSR in Afghanistan, Russia under Putin managed to avoid. At least for now…
5. And something about the main
To begin with, there is one more coincidence: Brezhnev and Putin are the only two leaders in whom Olympic sports were held on our land. And both times this momentous event was overshadowed by the political dirty tricks of the West. However, in 1980, everything was limited to a boycott from the United States and its satellites, and now a course has been taken to “knock” Russia out of the Olympic movement almost forever. And this is the fundamental difference - Brezhnev led the country, spread out on 1/6 of the earth’s firmament, the USSR relied on the support of any, and allies in the Warsaw Treaty Organization and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. The West simply had to reckon with all this, "playing for a long time," and pursue a policy aimed at weakening and destroying the Soviet Union gradually, so that it was crowned with success almost a decade after the death of Leonid Ilyich. Today, other rates, different rates, other goals. In the West, they are once again climbing into our internal affairs, trying to blame our leader and impose advice on us. In particular, they call for “far-reaching reforms necessary to transform the economy”, which turns out to be “based on oil, gas and raw materials” (although recent events related to the “oil war” have shown that this is far from the case). They are trying to declare Vladimir Putin “new Brezhnev” there, not realizing that they are giving him a fair compliment - if in 2006, according to opinion polls, less than 30% of Russians expressed a positive attitude towards Leonid Ilyich and his time, and in 2017 already 47%
I bring this data not at all to the fact that the time of the reign of Vladimir Putin, we may still recall, as the "golden age". Quite the contrary — with all the success of the Brezhnev era, the country accumulated in its years the potential subsequently missed, squandered, derailed. I would very much like that the main difference from the historical period of “Putin's time”, no matter how long it lasts, is that these years will not be the last stop before the state’s movement to a standstill, but a stage on Russia's path to new achievements and victories.