Is Vladimir Putin losing his grip?

There is a new blog post entitled, “On ‘intelligence,’” and another new blog post entitled, “Spring in November?


Fig. 2. “Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[1] fair use.

Russia isn’t the U.S. but if it were the U.S., I would say that Vladimir Putin is losing his grip and I really don’t know how else to interpret this:

Alla Pugacheva has been a musical megastar here for decades. First, in the Soviet Union, where she began her career in the 1960s; then, after the fall of the USSR, in Russia.

She is a hugely popular and well-respected artist, which makes her public comments about Russia’s offensive in Ukraine big news.

Her assertion that “our lads are dying for illusory aims that make our country a pariah and the lives of our citizens extremely difficult” is likely to infuriate the Kremlin. . . .

[Her husband Maxim] Galkin condemned Russian troops’ alleged atrocities and said there could be no justification for the Ukraine invasion.[2]

This follows several local Russian politicians’ call for Putin to resign[3] and what looks to me like a very canny analysis that there may be a regime change by the spring.[4] Due to the limitations of survey non-methodology, which are exacerbated in Russia by orders of magnitude,[5] we cannot know how much this is the tip of the iceberg.

But in the U.S., I would suspect that these celebrities and politicians might have a finger on the pulse of the population. I would suspect, at the very least, that support for Putin’s policies is far softer than we will see reported. But this is Russia, not the U.S. And I’m left to wonder just how wrong my suspicions really are.

CBS News, “President Biden warns Vladimir Putin not to use nuclear weapons: ‘Don’t. Don’t. Don’t,’” September 16, 2022,

Mary Ilyushina, “Ukrainian strikes into Russia’s border towns compound Putin’s troubles,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022,

Isabelle Khurshudyan and Kamila Hrabchuk, “‘Look, these are our boys’: Ukrainian troops drive Russian tanks on new front line,” Washington Post, September 17, 2022,

Laurence Peter, “Ukraine war: Russian pop megastar Alla Pugacheva condemns conflict,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022,

Steve Rosenberg, “Megastar speaks out,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022,

Gabriel Gavin, “Putin’s push for a new USSR reawakens the bloody chaos of Soviet collapse,” Politico, September 19, 2022,



Fig. 1. Sign at demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, May 3, 2022. Janni Rye, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

Lawrence Hurley, “Justices join debate on Supreme Court’s legitimacy after abortion ruling,” NBC News, September 18, 2022,

Sarah Gantz, Jasen Lo, and Jonathan Lai, “Thousands of out-of-state patients are coming to Pennsylvania for abortions they can’t get at home,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 19, 2022,

Competitive authoritarian regime project

Fig. 1. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Clarence Mitchell during signing ceremony of the voting rights act. Yoichi Okamoto, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Amy Gardner et al., “Republicans in key battleground races refuse to say they will accept results,” Washington Post, September 18, 2022,

  1. [1]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022,
  2. [2]Steve Rosenberg, “Megastar speaks out,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022,
  3. [3]Insider, “Municipal deputies in 18 Moscow and St. Petersburg districts demand Putin’s resignation,” September 12, 2022,; Allison Quinn, “Moscow Officials Urge Putin to GTFO: ‘Everything Went Wrong,’” Daily Beast, September 10, 2022,
  4. [4]Julia Ioffe, “Fear and Loathing in Moscow,” Puck News, September 13, 2022,
  5. [5]Joshua Yaffa, “Why Do So Many Russians Say They Support the War in Ukraine?” New Yorker, March 29, 2022,

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