PUTIN’S FUTURENo End in Sight to “Beginning of Putin’s End”

By Russia Matters staff

Published 12 September 2022

The first predictions that Vladimir Putin’s reign was about to end – the wording often referred to “the beginning of the end” of Vladimir Putin’s regime – were made in 2002, three years after his ascension to power in December 1999. The number and frequency of such predictions have increased since the launch of the botched invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. The staff of Russia Matters examined thirty-eight of these predictions and the context in which they were made.

Editor’s note: on 2 June 1897, the New York Journal published a letter Mark Twain sent the newspaper to correct a story the paper had published a few days earlier, in which it reported that Twain had just died. “The report of my death was an exaggeration,” Twain wrote. Should Vladimir Putin circulate a letter to the media to claim that reports of his approaching political demise are exaggerated? Putin’s political death, and the demise of the regime he leads, have been a topic of contentious debate for twenty years, gaining added intensity since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022 (and now also include questions about his health). In the coming days we will publish a series of articles debating the question of the future of his Putin and his regime.


When scanning commentaries on post-Soviet Eurasia from English- and Russian-language sources, certain words or phrases stand out as fads that later fade away. So when RFE/RL described, on 30 July 2022, a “bold prediction” by Russia expert Iver Neumann that we are witnessing “the beginning of the end” of Vladimir Putin’s regime, it seemed like one of the newest fads that have emerged after Putin’s decision to (re-)invade Ukraine in February.

We decided to reaffirm that hunch as Neumann’s prediction began to gain traction in other media. With no skills or means immediately available for meta-analysis, we searched in Factiva, Google, Yandex, and other open sources for “beginning of the end”+ “Putin” and “начало+конца”+ Путин.

The search revealed that proclaiming the beginning of Putin’s end was a trend long before his troops marched into Ukraine on 24 February 2022. In fact, the earliest such proclamation we found was made on 26 October 2002: a column by Moscow-based sociologist Boris Kagarlitsky that asks in its headline whether the Russian authorities’ mishandling of the deadly hostage crisis at Moscow’s Dubrovka theater during the second full year of Putin’s presidency meant the beginning of his political end. 

In total, we have found thirty-eight predictions of the beginning of Putin’s end made from 31 December 1999 (Putin’s ascent to the presidency) to 30 July 2022, including twenty-two made before the invasion of Ukraine (Table 1) and sixteen made after the invasion (Table 2).