Putin's regime may collapse from within, but Russian opposition leaders can't replace it, says political expert
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"I don't see any chance of that yet,” Portnikov said. “I think that Putin's regime may collapse from within. What will events look like when it collapses?"
"Firstly, the question is how much time it will take – a year or 10 years? As a result of the physical death of the dictator or earlier? Either it will collapse as a result of some serious coup, or a serious economic, social crisis in Russia. These are completely different conditions."
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Portnikov said it was also important what happens to the Russian elite after the fall of Putin's regime.
"Will the elite that is in power in Russia today retain power, will it just be modified and become a partner in negotiations with the West? Or it will lead to the complete destruction of such an elite," the political expert said.
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Portnikov gave an example: when political exiles returned to Russia in 1917, there were hopes that people who were "the voice of common sense" would get power.
Instead, the Bolsheviks came to power, he said.
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"It could be the same here – we could be considering the wrong people today," he said.
"The return of exiles always (produces different results) after the collapse of authoritarian regimes."