Rachel Maddow pointed out that Putin will not feel any pain from the sanctions imposed on Russia. “He will stay one of the richest men to have ever walked the face of the earth” no matter how much the Russian economy and the Russian people suffer, she said.
But staying in power is a whole other matter. “As long as he can sustain the dictatorship, he’s not susceptible to democratic consequences,” Maddow continued. “I mean, what are they going to do? Vote him out?”
Then Maddow suggested that the Ukraine invasion may have sparked a real threat to Putin’s dictatorship. As video of massive protests played, Maddow explained
MADDOW: This was, I think, a piece of this today that nobody could have predicted with confidence. Look at the protests against what Putin did today, inside Russia. Look at this. This is St. Petersburg, Russia, today. Look at all those people. Russian authorities put out dire, dire warnings today, threatening the Russian people that anybody demonstrating, anybody protesting, anybody saying anything against Putin's invasion of Ukraine would be treated as a rioter, would essentially be treated as a terrorist.
But look, look at the people turning out in St. Petersburg, in Moscow. I mean, here is the lead story tonight in the Associated Press, dateline Moscow. “Shocked Russians turn out by the thousands today to decry their country’s invasion of Ukraine as emotional calls for protests grew on social media.” Some 1745 people in 54 different Russian cities were arrested today. 54 different Russian cities? At least 957 arrests today in Moscow alone.
The Russian people have no say in the behavior of their government under the Putin dictatorship. He has criminalized standing against him in elections. He’s criminalized even journalism about him. He has criminalized human rights work. He has criminalized history. He has criminalized all protests. A single person standing, holding a single protest sign is considered to be a riot in Moscow. And yet the Russian people, by the thousands, by the thousands still took to the streets today to say, no, they cannot bear it, they cannot bear him starting this war.
It's a glimmer of hope in a very dark time.