Since the breakup of the Soviet Union Russia has struggled to find its identity- not only on the world stage, but internally as well. Real efforts to develop a true democracy have evolved into pseudo-autocracy with an outer glaze of democracy for international purposes. Part of this process takes the form of the government absorbing characteristics of the former Tsars.
Returning to the traditional color of the flag and the use of the double headed eagle were a natural decision since these were symbols which had taken on clear aspect of national identity for hundreds of years.
Some actions appear to be a genuine attempt to reconcile a nation with its ruthless treatment of the family which guided Russia into the modern era. The grand public funeral for Nicholas the Second, his family, and servants appeared to be an acknowledgement of the wrong done with purges that began soon after revolution of 1917 and continued through the majority of the communist period.
These efforts were innocent in themselves, but moves made during Putin’s terms in office hint at a weakened state shoring up a fragile structure with past glory. Putin appears to want to embrace not only the symbolism of the former Imperial family, but its essence as well.
Putin professes democratic efforts and reforms, but the policies enacted have consistently limited freedom and punished dissent.
Rarely does Putin pass up an opportunity to be photographed in the Kremlin, the heart of imperial splendor.
2012 has seen an acceleration of the process.
In May it was reported Putin was recreating the 1896 Kremlin gardens for his inauguration.
Putin has consistently moved closer to the Orthodox Church. Many confiscated churches have been transferred back into Orthodox hands. Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov is even believed to be the spiritual advisor to the enigmatic leader.
In December Putin expressed his desire to encourage the country to use Russia’s history as a blueprint for how it should move forward.
Putin even gave journalists souvenir Romanov memorabilia in gift bags to commemorate the four hundredth anniversary of the founding of the dynasty.
Surprising moves have been made by the Putin government in early 2013. Fast track citizenship for Romanov descendants was announced recently, streamlining the long and difficult process.
Regardless of the motivation for Putin wrapping himself in the Romanov mystique- Russia can only be truely great when it sees itself as it is- not how it was.