Earlier this week, Investigative Committee chief Aleksandr Bastrykin put forth a chilling manifesto for Russia's future.
It was based on paranoia and called for ramped up repression, censorship, surveillance, and political indoctrination.
It's a plan that would have made Yury Andropov smile.
Yesterday, former Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin offered a very different vision.
In announcing that he has accepted an offer to chair the Kremlin's top economics think tank, the Center for Strategic Reform, Kudrin called for a fundamental modernization and restructuring of Russia's economy.
But Kudrin added that such a restructuring would be contingent on establishing a more pluralistic and accountable political system -- as well as a more impartial and less arbitrary judicial system.
He actually used the word Perestroika. And that may have made Mikhail Gorbachev smile.
Vladimir Puin's regime seems to be finally realizing that the status quo is unsustainable.
And Bastrykin and Kudrin have offered two competing blueprints for the future.
But here's the thing.
As much as Kudrin's vision may please the West and appeal to foreign investors, it doesn't have a ghost of a chance in the Putin system -- which is based on corruption, rent-seeking, and arbitrary centralized rule.
Implementing Kudrin's plan would mean regime change.
Bastrykin's vision, on the other hand, is not only consistent with the Putin system -- it's the system's most logical outcome.
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