Pavlovsky, 'democratic Putinism' ideologue, has died
by Vladimir Rozanskij

He was the great prompter in the first two presidential terms of the Russian 'tsar'.Promoter of a Russian presidential model of 'imperial democracy'. He ended up on the fringes of power for opposing Putin's tenure.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The political scientist Gleb Pavlovsky, one of the main ideologues of Putin's early years, has died at the age of 72, after long suffering from cancer, as his friend Simon Kordonsky, a professor at the Higher School of Economics, announced on behalf of his family. The academician had been the great prompter in the first two presidential terms in the early 2000s, which in his opinion should have ended Putin's pre-eminent function, leaving room for a change of power.

Pavlovsky had inspired the creation of the president's party, 'United Russia', in mid-2000, during the first year of Putin's presidency, accompanied by a vibrant youth movement close to the Kremlin. It was a model of 'imperial democracy', summarising the need for strong government and the 'vertical of power', terms he developed to find a synthesis between the absolutist tradition and Russia's great ethnic, social and even political diversity.

The regime sidelined him in 2011, when preparations were being made for Putin's return to the head of state with a third term in office after Medvedev's interval. Instead, Pavlovsky argued for a second term in office for the 'dauphin', to whom he tried to sew the robes of the moderate politician, in his frequent and much-followed speeches in the national press.

The political scientist came from the anti-Soviet dissent movement, becoming notorious in 1974 when he refused to confirm in court the KGB charges against his acquaintance Vjaceslav Igrunov, arrested for denigrating the Soviet regime. At first Pavlovsky collaborated with the secret services, only to later declare that he was forced to provide information, and that he no longer wanted to submit.

In Moscow, he became editor of the magazine Research (Poiski), an activity that cost him his arrest in 1982. Again, the authorities extorted information from him about other dissidents, limiting themselves to those who had already left the country. Sent into confinement in the Komi region, he returned to the capital at the beginning of Gorbachev's perestroika, becoming one of the first collaborators of the future president Boris Yeltsyn. He met the US philanthropist George Soros, who financed the 'Civil Society' programme, spreading the information technology that was beginning to change the world in the 1990s.

Together with businessman Vladimir Jakovlev, he then founded the journalistic cooperative Il Fatto, from which one of the most authoritative publications of Russian information, the newspaper Kommersant, emerged, becoming one of the main media outlets throughout the country. He then decided to devote himself to the new science of 'polittekhnologija', scientific politology, to offer everyone the tools to understand and participate in public life.

His Foundation for Effective Politics supports Yeltsyn's electoral campaign in 1996, greatly increasing his seemingly uncertain support and making a decisive contribution to his victory over the communist Gennadij Zjuganov. His initiative succeeded in uniting the main oligarchs together with the siloviki, the 'men of the security apparatus', creating the premises for the system later embodied by Putin, whom Pavlovsky himself helped to have chosen as prime minister, and later successor to the president.

Progressively excluded from the halls of power, he continued as long as he had the strength to monitor and inform on developments in Russian politics and its possible evolutions, living between Moscow and Austria. He was highly respected, but regarded with suspicion by all political parties and public opinion, due to his closeness to power, but also because of his freedom of criticism. His last remembered words, before the catastrophe of the war, were that 'when you hit rock bottom, it is time to expect the worst'.