I’ve written elsewhere about the extent to which I feel Vladimir Putin is already dwelling, possibly dangerously, on his future place in history, if that doesn’t sound too much like an oxymoron. He has compared himself or allowed comparisons to be drawn with figures such as Pyotr Stolypin, the early 20thC tsarist reformer-with-an-iron-fist or Peter the Great, the early 18thC… tsar reformer-with-an-iron-fist. However, reading his eulogy to Prince (and Saint) Vladimir I (ironically, of Kiev), who forcibly baptised his population and thus brought Orthodox Christianity to the Rus’, delivered yesterday (28 July 2015) on the thousand-year anniversary of his death, I wondered if Putin had a new role model:
“By stopping fratricidal wars, crushing external enemies, Prince Vladimir laid down the foundation for creating a single Russian nation and paved the way for the construction of a strong, centralized Russian state.”
Stopping fratricidal wars? To Putin, his brutal but victorious (kind of) Second Chechen War and general reassertion of central authority represented that, so check.
Crushing external enemies? Georgian 2008, and maybe in his mind NATO-Ukraine 2014, so check.
Strong, centralised Russian state? Check.
Technically, Russian rulers named Vladimir have been either Grand Princes (in other words, before the institution of the title and position of tsar) or, well, Lenin. So the title of Tsar Vladimir I is, technically, open…