Although all autocrats fit the same basic profile, the similarities between Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez are particularly striking, Michael Bohm writes in the Moscow Times, citing the top 25 similarities between the two:
1. Both came from modest, low-income families. ….
2. Having come to power at the same time in 1999, both leaders lucked out on the global rise in oil prices in the 2000s. … Both used their huge oil windfalls to subsidize handouts and buy political support among the large segments of the population that are dependent on the state.
3. Chavez nationalized ExxonMobil, Chevron and other foreign oil companies. Putin effectively nationalized Yukos. …
4. During the leaders’ rule, both nations were stricken by the “oil curse” in which rent-seeking dominated the economy, non-oil sectors suffered a decline in competitiveness, and most of the wealth was redistributed, wasted or stolen, not created.
5. For most of the 2000s, Chavez gave Cuba about $3 billion a year in oil subsidies. Putin also gave Belarus about $3 billion in oil subsidies during the same period. The subsidies were crucial in keeping Cuba’s and Belarus’ economies afloat.
6. As closed, oil-rich nations with limited checks and balances, corruption increased exponentially under both leaders’ rule. Venezuela was No. 165 on the 2012 Transparency International corruption ranking, and Russia was No. 133…..
8. Both leaders shared a strong affinity for conspiracy theories. Chavez said the National Endowment for Democracy plotted the 2002 failed coup against him …. Putin, Kremlin-friendly analysts and the state-controlled media have suggested that the U.S. tried to orchestrate a color revolution by funding nongovernmental organizations, opposition leaders and protesters.
11. As strongmen, Chavez is the model Latin American caudillo. Putin is the model Russian vozhd.
12. Chavez founded chavismo, a political philosophy based on social welfare, a strong state role in the economy, anti-Americanism and anti-liberalism. Putin created Putinism, which is founded on state capitalism, a large and powerful government based on a vertical power structure and a one-party state, anti-Americanism and the rise of the siloviki.
13. Both used the downtrodden and dispirited for their political base. …..
14. Both leaders’ anti-Americanism is hypocritical. Chavez sold 1 million barrels of oil every year to the U.S., or 10 percent of U.S. oil imports. Putin’s elite have a fondness for buying U.S. luxury real estate and sending their children to U.S. universities……
18. Both oversaw the state gaining control of major media outlets. Russia was No. 142 on the 2011-12 Press Freedom Index, while Venezuela was 120.
19. Chavez expelled Human Rights Watch from the country. Putin expelled USAID……
25. Chavez created “Bolivarian democracy.” Putin created “sovereign democracy.”
Amid all of these similarities, however, there is one striking difference between the two: Chavez left the political scene — albeit not on his own will — at the height of his popularity. But Putin is still hanging on to power far past his popularity peak of 70 percent in 2007.