On the way down

According to Vyacheslav Volodin, first deputy chief of staff to the president, “attacks against Putin are attacks against Russia”, and Russia’s people understand “that if there is no Putin, there is no Russia.”

According to his boss Sergei Ivanov, chief of staff to the president, “One cannot imagine today’s Russia without Putin… moreover, I cannot imagine Russia’s future without such a national leader.”

The two sycophants were immediately compared on Twitter to Rudolf Hess, who said in September 1934 that Hitler was Germany and vice versa. Yes, we’re dealing with two delusional, paranoid nations. Yes, but…

In July 1934, Hitler (45) gets rid of his only Nazi rival, Röhm (46). Less than three months later, Hess (41) proclaims, “Deutschland ist Hitler”. Everyone loves the winner. That year, Germany’s real GDP grows by 9% year-on-year. Unemployment is down to 15%, from 26% in 1933. Five years later, in 1939, Germany’s GDP per capita more than doubles on 1932 and unemployment drops below 2%.

Over to 2014. Putin is 62, Ivanov is 61 and the youngster Volodin is 50 years old. Putin has ruled for 15 years. In 2003 he promised to double the Russian GDP within a decade. It rose by 50% instead; by the end of 2013 GDP growth had all but stopped. Russia is cut off from advanced know-how in its main export industry. It’s locked out of Western capital markets. Its “counter-sanctions”, aka “import substitution”, aka “foot-shooting”, have led to double-digit food inflation. The oil price is falling and threatening a depression next year.

It’s cause enough for panic and desperation: to paraphrase Jim Morrison, “where will we be when the Führer’s gone?” “We won’t give back Crimea in a hundred years” is another mantra that sounds like self-therapy.

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