A wild day has come to the weirdest end. On the Cosmopolicast this evening, Vladislav Davidzon and Ariel Cohen—Kremlinologists extraordinaire—join us with three interpretations of today’s news from Russia. The only problem: None of them makes sense.
Russia: a riddle wrapped in an enigma eaten by a retarded bear.
Claire: Hi, it’s Claire Berlinski, and I’m here with my cat, as you can hear, Vladislav Davidson, and Ariel Cohen. Ariel, I’m going to have you introduce yourself because our listeners have never heard from you before. Tell us a little bit about who you are.
Ariel: I am a senior fellow of the Atlantic Council, non-resident. I’ve been in Russia and before that USSR research business since, I hate to say it, but about forty years. I was born in Ukraine. I was born in the Crimea, and today I’m also the Managing Director of International Tax and Investment Center, a small niche think tank in Washington, D.C., where I manage a program called Energy Growth and Security.
Claire: Wonderful. Thank you very much. And you’re old friends. And, well, it’s been an eventful day. The coup seems to be over and I can’t quite figure out what happened. You have theories, either one of you? Vladislav?
Vlad: Hi. Your cat seems also to be deeply involved in coup commentary.
Ariel: I think the cat thinks the coup’s not over.
Claire: All right. Each of you, tell me your theory about what’s going on. Start with Vlad.
Ariel: I’m not sure the coup is over. The question is whether Prigozhin accomplished anything that he wanted. And he said he wanted the Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu out, and he wanted the Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov out. It looked like a real coup for a while. Vladimir Putin got on his doomsday plane and flew out of Moscow and as he did that the radar transponder was switched off and he disappeared from the screens, however the announcement that the dictator of Belarus Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko was negotiating with the Prigozhin all day on behalf of Mr. Putin, and now that Prigozhin stopped the advance in Moscow raises a lot of questions. What the hell was it? Was it a real coup? Was it an attempt to scare somebody? And was that somebody Putin himself, the Dr. Frankenstein who created the Prigozhin monster, as I’m going to write, the cook, that’s the nickname of Prigozhin, Putin’s cook, the cook cooked a coup. So, I think we will understand a little bit more tomorrow and next week, but to me this suggests a deep structural weakness of Putin’s dictatorship. In normal dictatorships, cooks do not pull off coups.