VLADIMIR PUTIN has successfully suppressed dissent, squeezed out opposition and clamped down on the media, but he has not been able to control global financial markets. In recent days the rouble has collapsed; it has lost almost 40% of its value over three weeks. This is the biggest crisis of Mr Putin’s reign—and it is entirely his fault.

Mr Putin will no doubt blame all the usual suspects—Western speculators who bet against his currency, Western imperialists who imposed sanctions on his economy, Western economists who failed to forecast that the oil price (down by half over six months) would fall as far as it has and, of course, Western newspapers that told him that his policies would lead to disaster. But the crisis is the inevitable consequence of Putinism—of aggression abroad and a corrupt-and-control economy at home. Continue reading