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Leonid Bershidsky

Why So Few Big Rats Have Fled Putin’s Ship

It’s unclear what top bureaucrats, officers and business leaders would gain from denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — but they know what they would lose. 

He’s not feeling lonely yet.

He’s not feeling lonely yet.

Photographer: Contributor/Getty Images Europe

When someone like Boris Bondarev, a Russian counsellor to the United Nations in Geneva, slams the door on his employer, the Russian Foreign Ministry, and on his home country, it’s only natural to wonder if Vladimir Putin’s system is showing cracks three months into the dictator’s disgraceful Ukraine adventure. The answer, however, is “not really.” Despite the relative failure of the invasion so far, prominent defectors are remarkably few in number. The Russian establishment is not about to implode.

For most of the Putin-era breed of establishment figure, carrying on has more upside than defecting.