December 2, 2023

A former Russian state television pundit who was recently fired from his on-screen role for besmirching two foreign ministry officials has forecast that the Kremlin will fall into turmoil in the coming decade.

In a recent video recording, Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Middle East Institute in Moscow, said that “the opportunity of collapse will be somewhere in the 2030s, because [Russian President Vladimir] Putin isn’t permanent; he’s aging.”

“As always, strong leaders are followed by weak ones, and Putin is very strong in terms of holding power—though what I think about how he’s running the country is a separate topic,” he added, according to a translation by Wartranslated. “He’ll put some small, weak s*** in his place. [Former Russian President Dmitry] Medvedev was an example.”

Newsweek approached the Russian government via email for comment on Sunday.

Medvedev served as Russian president between 2008 and 2012 due to the Russian constitution barring Putin from serving a third consecutive term. He swapped places with Medvedev as prime minister, before returning to the presidency. In 2020, Putin changed the constitution so he could remain in power.

Despite waning support at home for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Putin has largely remained a popular figure among the Russian public—perhaps in part to pervasive propaganda and the Russian president’s deflection of the failings of the war onto his generals.

Throughout his tenure at the head of the Russian government, he has projected the image of a strong leader surrounded by a coterie of loyal officials and oligarchs who risk being disposed of if they speak out against him.

Putin Satanovsky
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Perm on October 19, 2023, and Yevgeny Satanovsky (inset), a Russian political scientist and former TV pundit. Satanovsky has predicted a period of turmoil when Putin’s presidency ends.

But this vice-like grip on power from the former KGB agent has led to questions about who could replace him and continue to control such an expansive and an at-times fractious nation, whose relative stability after the fall of the Soviet Union has been marked by Putin’s hold on the Kremlin.

The first chink in Putin’s political armor came earlier this year, when he faced an armed rebellion on the part of the now deceased Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin. He had once been a trusted member of the Russian president’s inner circle before growing highly critical of Moscow’s military failings in Ukraine.

As experts noted at the time, Prigozhin’s mutiny—which was halfway to Moscow before it ended—pierced the perception of Putin’s invincibility in the eyes of Russians and many around the world.

There have also been questions asked of Putin’s health since the invasion of Ukraine, including speculation that he was suffering from some form of degenerative disease due to his appearances in public with a puffy face and tremors in his hands and arms—as well as his strict social distancing from others during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

Satanovsky’s prediction comes after he was dismissed as a regular pundit on the state-run Russia-1 channel, where he typically appeared as a talking head alongside Kremlin mouthpiece Vladimir Solovyov.

Satanovsky had accused Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova of being a “heavy-drinking” antisemite and said Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was a “hopeless drunkard” in an interview.

The political scientist claimed back in February that the ultimate goal of Russia was the “denazification and demilitarization of the United States,” as well as the removal of American military assets in NATO nations close to the Russian border.