Have no fear, Putin is here

Vladimir Putin reaches for the oldest trick in the Russian political playbook: the good czar riding in to save the people from the nasty local boyars: Moving quickly to stamp out growing unrest, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin flew to the small town of Pikalyovo on Thursday to demand that angry workers receive wage arrears and ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.

Vladimir Putin reaches for the oldest trick in the Russian political playbook: the good czar riding in to save the people from the nasty local boyars:

Vladimir Putin reaches for the oldest trick in the Russian political playbook: the good czar riding in to save the people from the nasty local boyars:

Moving quickly to stamp out growing unrest, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin flew to the small town of Pikalyovo on Thursday to demand that angry workers receive wage arrears and rebuke their delinquent employers.

Putin told the owners of the town’s three factories that the government had transferred 41.24 million rubles ($1.34 million) to their Sberbank accounts on Wednesday and they had until the end of the day to pay their workers.

"All wage arrears must be settled," Putin said at a meeting with owners and government officials. "The deadline is today."

Turning to the owners, including tycoon Oleg Deripaska, owner of one of the plants, Putin offered a stinging rebuke of their business practices.

"You have made thousands of people hostages to your ambitions, your lack of professionalism — or maybe simply your trivial greed," Putin said in remarks shown on state television. "Why was everyone running around like cockroaches before my arrival? Why was no one capable of making decisions?"

He threw a pen at a contract and told Deripaska to sign it.

The whole affair was televised, including crowds cheering Putin’s arrival. 

The Kremlin’s first response to this crisis was to pretend it wasn’t happening. The new tactic seems to be to blame it on other people.  

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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