On March 10, 2022, an article criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin was posted on the Chinese platforms Weibo and WeChat, and was removed by the Chinese Communist Party online censorship five days later.
Below are excerpts of the article:
'Anyone Who Thinks That The Sky Will Fall Without Him Is Basically A Megalomaniac'
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"2014 was a turning point for Putin and Russia's national fortune. The annexation of Crimea has put Putin's government in a difficult position with no room to maneuver… [T]he annexation of Crimea suddenly made him an international pariah and warmonger, on par with Hitler and other war criminals of World War II. Before 2014, Russia also experienced the financial crisis of 2009, but without lasting setbacks, and entered the ranks of high-income countries for a time. However, after 2014 Russia plunged into a long-term recession, with no significant recovery so far. According to statistics, Russia's GDP shrank by a total of 5% in 2015 and 2016, and the average growth rate in the following five years remained around 1% to 2%, much lower than the world average growth rate of 2.9%. Russia's nominal GDP in U.S. dollars shrank from a peak of $2.29 trillion in 2013 to $1.48 trillion in 2020, reducing its share of the global economy from 2.96% to 1.77%, with a resulting drop in ranking from sixth to eleventh place. This prolonged, moribund slowdown resembles the stagnation at the end of the Soviet Union…
"Until 2014, Putin could be described as a shrewd, calm, and sharp-minded strategist. With his handling of domestic and foreign affairs, his assessment and judgment on situations almost never missed their targets. But why did he make so many bad moves and was so wrong and outrageous in the years afterward?
"It was his greed for power that ruined him. And he could not escape the ultimate fate of strongman politics. Although contemporary Russia still retained the shell of a democratic system, the actual democratic system that Russia managed to build at a very staggering social cost went backwards due to Putin's various maneuverings that violated political ethics after he came to power. The check on power and term limits became but empty shells. Surely, due to his outstanding achievements in the early years of his administration, Putin's public approval rating remained above 60%. This led him to be overconfident, believing that he was the only one who could revitalize Russia. But history has proven time and again that the world goes on without anyone. Anyone who thinks that the sky will fall without him is basically a megalomaniac…
"He stayed in power for so long that his decision-making inner circle became increasingly corrupt and compliant. Those who dared to disagree and dissent were gradually sidelined or got rid of. (For instance, former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov in the first administration of Putin, the former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, even former President and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gradually became estranged from him). Most of those who were newly promoted by Putin were adulatory and good at licking his boots…"
'Putin's Palace Became A Closed Information Cocoon'
"Under the pretense of establishing a 'managed democracy,' Putin drove out and cleared out the opposition in the Kremlin, disqualified his political opponents from running for elections, assassinated journalists who would not give up criticizing him, and throw 'troublemakers' like Alexei Navalny in prison. After completing these tasks, he basically got rid of the effective check on his power. And this led Putin's decision-making inner circle to become a sort of 'a monarch and his favorite ministers' relationship. Those 'favorite ministers,' for the sake of their own safety and interests, dared not say 'no' to any ideas of the monarch. Instead, they would desperately try to prove the monarch's wisdom and might by finding reasons and making up stories, so as to gain the monarch's appreciation and favors.
"In the end, Putin's palace became a closed information cocoon, in which he, the monarch, heard all the 'good news' he liked while the 'bad news' he didn't like was filtered out and blocked by his 'favorite ministers.' Of course, the views of foreign governments could not be shielded from him by his 'favorite ministers.' But once the monarch put on the tinted glasses of 'patriotism,' he would regard and consider all the criticism from abroad as 'they did not give up their wild ambition to annihilate us.' Therefore, the monarch's mechanism of information feedback became completely distorted. Even though he was once a shrewd KGB intelligence officer, Putin became 'deaf and blind' after remaining too long in the information cocoon, where his misjudgment in his subjective cognition could not be corrected. Then, he would be misled by all the 'good news' and 'patriotic feelings' and become more and more bigoted and stubborn. Eventually, this would result in a serious deviation in his cognition and judgement of the world and his making of wrong and stupid decisions like a fool. At the same time, Putin bypassed the constitution and created this scheme of 'two-person rotation of power,' which made the term limits and transfer of power virtually void and invalidated. This would further encourage his inner circle of 'favorite ministers' to push him further down the erroneous path until nothing was reversible and there was no return…
"The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, 'No man ever steps in the same river twice. For it's not the same river and he's not the same man.' In human history, however, countless people were drowned in the same river. Looking back, if Putin gave up his power just like George Washington when his term as president came to its end in 2008, what a perfect person he would be in the long river of history."
 Weibo.com/ttarticle/x/m/show/id/2309404745519602991583?_wb_client_=1, March 10, 2022. The article's author hid behind the pseudonym of Ya Ke Fu (雅可夫).