Vladimir Putin’s heroes: Russian president motivated by writers’ messianic view of country’s destiny
Joseph Brean | March 21, 2014 | Last Updated: Mar 21 9:11 PM ET
AP Photo/Sergei Chirikov, PoolThe Crimean conflict has offered a rare window into Vladimir Putin’s mind, his understanding of Russia’s history and his vision of its rightful future.
In 1877, the Russian Empire declared war on the Ottoman Empire, seeking among other things to reclaim its Crimean Black Sea naval port of Sevastopol.
Soon after, a young mystic poet and philosopher named Vladimir Solovyov gave his first public lecture in Saint Petersburg. A “wild looking” intellectual gadfly with long hair and “fiery” eyes, he expressed a vision of Russian destiny that, a century later, has made him a philosophical hero of the man behind Russia’s latest Crimean adventure, the long-serving autocratic President Vladimir Putin.
WikipediaVladimir Solovyov,philosophical hero to Vladimir Putin
“The lecture had a markedly conservative agenda, close to the Slavophile belief in Russia’s divinely inspired historical mission,” according to Solovyov’s biographer, Judith Deutsch Kornblatt. “In it, he criticizes the blind, monolithic power of the East as well as the fragmented power of the West; the former destroys the freedom of the individual, while the latter leads to unchecked egoism and anarchy.”
Solovyov’s argument — still so relevant that Mr. Putin reportedly assigns his political underlings to read him — was that “hope for the future resides only with a third people, the Slavs,” whose national character integrates the other two extremes.
For a man whose motives are often obscured by a brutal pragmatism, the Crimean conflict has offered a rare window into Mr. Putin’s mind, his understanding of Russia’s history and his vision of its rightful future.
As the Polish-American journalist Anne Applebaum wrote this week: “Putin invaded Crimea because Putin needs a war.”
But not just any war.