On Wednesday, 5 October, President Vladimir Putin asked a Russian teacher his opinion on the 18th-century rebellion that rocked Empress Catherine The Great’s Russia. He shared his opinion on the history lesson, saying that the state must be strong.
Putin, Russia’s supreme ruler since 1999, now faces the biggest challenge to his rule. Putin’s forces are losing ground in Ukraine’s seven-month war, and Russia is facing the West in the most dangerous standoff since 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis.
Putin started unexpectedly questioning his teacher about the 1773-1775 Pugachev Rebellion during a lengthy, televised videoconference.
“What was the Pugachev Rebellion?” It was true. It happened. Putin asked the teacher. He was shocked. He listed many reasons why Catherine had the most severe domestic problem in her 34-year reign.
Putin joked that the response of the teacher was like that of a diplomat in the Russian foreign ministry. The teacher asked him for clarification on the causes and consequences, claiming to be Tsar Peter III.
Putin claimed that Pugachev was buoyed at court by dynastic intrigues and started a major rebellion 1773 before Catherine’s forces defeated it more than a decade later.
Putin said that it was an indicator of weakness in the central authority.
While Putin has repeatedly tried to strengthen Russia’s government after the 1990s chaos in Russia, critics such as Alexei Navalny (a jailed opposition leader) claim that Putin has created an unstable system of personal rule that is dependent upon sycophancy.
He warned repeatedly against US attempts to revolutionize the former Soviet Union.
In Moscow, Pugachev was executed in the Red Square on January 1775. Catherine was influenced by the revolt for a long time. It was used to set the scene for Alexander Pushkin’s historical novel The Captain’s Daughter.
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