In my article for the Charlatan, I briefly compare Putin to Mussolini to make the argument that Putin is a fascist. I believe that we should dive deeper in this comparison, and that it deserved it’s own entire post. For this comparison to work, however, we first need to classify Putin as a fascist—I’m of the opinion that he is one, however not everyone agrees. Classifying Putin as a fascist will allow for this to be an even comparison and allow for a better understanding of how the men compare to each other.
In an opinion piece for the Moscow Times, Andrei Malgin compares Putin to Mussolini in a number of ways. First, he points out how both leaders have institutionalized religion, as Mussolini expanded the authority of the Catholic Church while offering them government funding and making it illegal to offend Catholics, which is similar to what Putin has done. He also points out that both men used to be atheists and follows Marxism, yet decided when they got in power that the use of religion would serve their own purposes for gaining supporters. Another similarity that he points out is the amount of corruption under both regimes, with Mussolini declaring a war on the mafia but actually creating a new system that had leaders chosen by previous mobsters and Putin doing effectively the same thing with his so-called expulsion of oligarchs. They also both have imperialistic goals, with both leaders desiring to expand their empires and conquering territories they feel they have some entitlement to (ex. Putin in Crimea, Mussolini in Albania). An article by Allan Massie echoes the idea that Putin bears similarities to Mussolini, and points out that both of them enjoyed being photographed doing manly activities or with animals bare-chested, and both men created their own political parties.
I believe that both of these opinion pieces hit the nail on the head with the comparison of Putin to Mussolini. Both of these leaders engaged in the active suppression of opposition and the corruption of state assets, and sought to restore their respective empires to their former glory by invading countries. They also both practice the rigging of elections in order to ensure they stay in power. Overall, I feel as though the best comparison of Putin to any other world leader is to Mussolini because they share so many tactical similarities and ideological aspects that have been highlighted above.