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Galeotti: Putin's regime paradoxically strong, brittle, drifting towards its end

TALLINN - Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime is is paradoxically strong, brittle, and drifting towards its end, Mark Galeotti, British expert on Russian security and intelligence services and organized crime, said in an interview with BNS.

"[It is] strong, in that there is no serious challenge to the regime and Putin's personal control over it," said Galeotti, one of the participants in the international Lennart Meri Conference to be held by the International Center for Defense and Security in Tallinn from May 17 to 19.

The director of the consultancy Mayak Intelligence added that Putin's regime is brittle, in that it lacks resilience or the capacity to evolve, at a time of growing dissatisfaction.

"And [it is] drifting in that I feel Putin himself is tired, disengaged from much of the job, looking for some combination of a constitutional reform and a trusted successor that would allow him to retire from the day-to-day management of the country," Galeotti told BNS.

"I am struck by the pervasive sense of an end of an era that I encounter in Moscow, where the political classes are obsessed with the sunset of Putinism, even if they do not expect it to be imminent," the expert, who also works for the British think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), said.

This year's Lennart Meri Conference, entitled "One Past, Many Futures," will bring together current state leaders, policymakers and renowned think tank experts as well as young future players from across the world to discuss foreign, defense and security policy in Tallinn from May 17 to 19.

Speakers of the conference include Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, German Defense Minister Ursual von der Leyen, Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak and several other foreign and defense ministers.

Those scheduled to take part in discussions include Alexey Levinson, sociologist and head of the Levada Center, Alexander Stubb, vice president of the European Investment Bank, Zhanna Nemtsova, founder of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation, Oliver Bullough, author and journalist, Alan Riley, researcher at the Atlantic Council, Constanze Stelzenmuller, senior fellow at the Robert Bosch Stiftung, Akilnathan Logeswaran, founder of the Stand Up for Europe movement, and Ulrike Franke, policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and recipient of the John McCain Dissertation Award.

Eeva Eek-Pajuste, director of the conference, said that a special focus will be namely on the youth and the future this year.

"In 10-15 years, today's young players will be the ones moving the power levers of the world, but their value judgments, attitude towards life and beliefs are developing at present. In order to comprehend the new trends emerging in society, it is smart for us not only to let them speak, but to listen to them and pay heed to what they are saying more ourselves as well," she said.

Taking place just a week before the elections to the European Parliament in Estonia, the conference will focus on foreign policy and security developments and the choices they bring. As risks to democratic values and rule-of-law societies grow, the triumph of the liberal order no longer seems inevitable. Confrontation and conflict occur not only between adversaries, but also between allies. Even as NATO celebrates the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty, transatlantic relations are as endangered as they are vitally important. And more broadly, the policy choices of the US worry allies and cheer adversaries across the globe. The aspirations and changing roles of China, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia present new challenges. Cyberspace and the information domain are largely ungoverned, encouraging conflict without rules, the organizers of the conference said.

This year marks 90 years since the birth of Lennart Meri, who has said that "Europe has one past, but an infinite number of futures". In order to mark the continuation of former president Lennart Meri's legacy in foreign and security policy thinking, the titles of the conference itself and its panel discussions have this time been chosen from among quotes from Meri's speeches.

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