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As Russia approaches the parliamentary election scheduled for Sept. 19, 2021, the Kremlin is increasingly worried about a repeat of the public humiliation it suffered in last year’s election in the city of Moscow. Many of the ruling United Russia party’s candidates lost to political no-names — spoilers or technical candidates from smaller registered parties — even after real opponents were disqualified from the ballot. Gone are the days when Vladimir Putin’s regime could ensure the dominance of its party through traditional methods such as the coercion of state employees, control over the media or the removal of opposition candidates.

All those methods are still there — but they no longer seem to work.…  Seguir leyendo »

This time four years ago, officials in Moscow were preparing -- along with the rest of the world -- for what appeared to be inevitable: a Hillary Clinton presidency. It was a grim prospect for Russian President Vladimir Putin at a time Russia was overwhelmed by a string of scandals.

That summer, the world had learned about the massive state-sponsored doping program in Russian sport. In September, a Dutch-led international investigation found that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, shot down while flying over Ukraine, had been downed by a Russian missile, killing all 298 on board. Around the same time, Russia launched a brutal bombing campaign on the Syrian city of Aleppo, killing hundreds of civilians and devastating the city.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ksenia Fadeyeva, who won a seat on the city council in Tomsk, Russia, on Sunday, is seen next to one of her campaign posters in the Siberian city last month. (Andrei Fateyev/AP)

On Aug. 19, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was meeting with local activists in the Siberian city of Tomsk. “Someone asked him the traditional question why he had not been arrested or murdered,” recalls one of those present, referring to the fates often suffered by Kremlin opponents. “He made a joke in response, as usual. The next day, there was no room for jokes.”

The next day, as the whole world now knows, Navalny collapsed from poisoning on a plane back to Moscow. The cause, according to German medical experts, was a nerve agent closely related to the Novichok substance used in the attack against former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain in 2018.…  Seguir leyendo »

Fresh allegations of Russian meddling in the upcoming US Presidential election shine a harsh spotlight on the dangerous deadlock between the nuclear-tipped powers. In a reprise of 2016, Moscow is apparently pushing hard for Donald Trump to win the White House. But is a Trump second term really in the Kremlin's best interest? Or would a Joe Biden win actually be the more pragmatic outcome for Russia?

On the surface, a stable Biden presidency, including a strong, no-nonsense Vice President Kamala Harris, would seem unpalatable to Moscow. Biden is well-acquainted with Russian President Vladimir Putin from before and during his tenure as vice president in the Obama administration.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with winners of the Leaders of Russia contest via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Tuesday. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AP)

On Sunday, Russia will hold regional elections. Voters will cast ballots in some 9,000 races in 83 regions, with everything from elections to fill national legislature vacancies to elections for regional governors and municipal councils.

According to the respected Russian election monitoring group Golos, these elections are likely to be a sham. Even the Communists, a tame, officially recognized opposition party, have not been allowed to register candidates in seven of the 18 governor’s races. Real independent candidates have found it harder than ever to get on the ballot.

Since the beginning, the Putin system has been built on twin pillars.…  Seguir leyendo »

A banner reading 'No capitulation!' is unfurled above the entrance to the city hall in Kyiv as part of protests against implementation of the so-called Steinmeier Formula. Photo: Getty Images.

In 2016, the then-German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, suggested a way around the impasse in east Ukraine.

He proposed that elections in the areas held by Russian-backed insurgents – the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (DNR) and the ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ (LNR) – could be held under Ukrainian legislation, with Kyiv adopting a temporary law on ‘special status’, the main disagreement between Russia and Ukraine in the Minsk Agreements. This law would become permanent once the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had declared that elections correspond with OSCE standards.

The reaction in Ukraine was strongly negative. The so-called Steinmeier Formula contradicted Kyiv’s position that elections in the occupied Donbas should only go ahead in a secure environment – requiring the prior withdrawal of Russian forces and the return of the eastern border to Ukraine’s control.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sept. 8, Russians will vote in municipal and regional elections, and the authorities are afraid. Not of any foreign power’s interference in Russia’s elections — there have been no fair elections in decades — but of Russia’s own people and opposition candidates, who are far more popular than the official nominees.

Moscow’s old bag of electoral tricks survives — for example, moving elections from December to early September so that summer vacations would leave challengers little time to organize. The authorities have resorted to new tricks too, like clogging the electoral system with fake candidates and putting party loyalists on the ballot as independent candidates.…  Seguir leyendo »

What We Now Know About Russian Disinformation

The Russian disinformation operations that affected the 2016 United States presidential election are by no means over. Indeed, as two new reports produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee make clear, Russian interference through social media — contrary to the suggestion of many prominent tech executives — is a chronic, widespread and identifiable condition that we must now aggressively manage.

The Senate committee asked two research teams, one of which I led, to investigate the full scope of the recent multiyear Russian operation to influence American opinion executed by a company called the Internet Research Agency. The Senate provided us with data attributed to the agency’s operations given to the Senate by Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet (Google’s parent company), companies whose platforms were manipulated for that purpose.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Vladimir Putin of Russia speaking at a youth forum in Moscow this month.CreditPool photo by Alexei Druzhinin

The presidential election in Russia a week ago resulted in an impressive, if unsurprising, victory for Vladimir Putin. He was elected to a fourth term with a wide margin and high turnout in a vote that appeared to be the cleanest in Russia’s recent history (at least when it comes to what happened on Election Day itself).

But this election was about more than just reinstalling Mr. Putin in the Kremlin. It signaled the beginning of post-Putin Russia. Because while the president has gained popular support for policies like annexing Crimea and confronting the West, the legitimacy of his next term will be determined by his success in reassuring ordinary Russians that his regime will endure even when he is no longer in the Kremlin.…  Seguir leyendo »

Durante los primeros años de su presidencia a comienzos de este siglo, Vladimir Putin era una isla prooccidental en un mar de élites rusas antioccidentales. Como observé en aquel momento, su deseo de “anclar firmemente Rusia a Occidente” contrastaba claramente con las nociones de seguridad tradicionales del país. Pero tras la elección presidencial del domingo pasado, en la que Putin consolidó su visión de Rusia como una fortaleza militar, está claro que ahora su isla es el nacionalismo, y que seguirá siéndolo mientras mande en el Kremlin.

El peligro que esto plantea salta a la vista. Tras dieciocho años en el poder, Putin se atreve a más que sus predecesores soviéticos al plantear como si nada la posibilidad de un conflicto nuclear con Occidente.…  Seguir leyendo »

This Sunday the Russian President Vladimir Putin has secured a stunning 76,66% of support during the presidential election in Russia. In his post-victory speech at the Manezhnaya square he encouraged a cheering crowd to proceed with Russia’s development: “We are destined for success.

While that is yet to be seen, it is clear that Mr. Putin is the one who is so far destined for success — and he uses cleverly-crafted manoeuvres for it. Hence, ahead of the election Mr. Putin in his usual, rather persuasive and eloquent manner, unveiled new types of weapon systems capable of striking targets even in Florida.…  Seguir leyendo »


¿Cuáles han sido las claves de la victoria de Vladimir Putin en las elecciones presidenciales celebradas el pasado 18 de marzo? ¿Puede esto suponer un cambio en el actual sistema político ruso?


Este análisis es complementario a dos anteriores sobre el putinismo y sobre las relaciones entre Rusia y la UE, por lo que se centrará en algunas claves de la victoria de Putin y en la cuestión de cuáles serían los principales aspectos de su nuevo mandato. La victoria de Putin no supone un cambio del paisaje político de Rusia, sino la continuidad del putinismo. Pero para que todo siga igual, tiene que cambiar la economía del país.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Vladimir Putin of Russia at a meeting with foreign businessmen in 2016. The Russian economy has stagnated in the absence of reforms. Credit Olga Maltseva/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

There was never much suspense about whether Vladimir Putin would win the election on Sunday, but there is at least some question about which Putin will show up for his fourth term as Russia’s president.

It’s long forgotten now, but Mr. Putin was once a classic economic reformer. He took over as president in 2000, after a decade in which Russia was devastated by financial crisis, twice. With his country’s back against the wall, Mr. Putin in his early years pushed major economic reforms, including a simple flat tax and opening Russia to the world. His stated goal was to make Russia feel like any other European country.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dimanche 18 mars [date du premier tour de la présidentielle], dix-huit ans après sa première élection à la tête de la Russie, Vladimir Poutine engagera un cinquième mandat, de six ans. Un cinquième, et pas un quatrième, comme une lecture institutionnaliste le laisse croire. En effet, la présidence Medvedev de 2008-2012 était bien le troisième mandat. Le jeune protégé avait été élu avec l’engagement de faire de Poutine un chef de gouvernement tout-puissant. « Votez Medvedev, vous garderez Poutine », scandaient alors les médias aux ordres.

Cette année encore, le président russe a préféré un vote sous contrôle à une élection honnête.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a rally concert celebrating the fourth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea at Nakhimov Square in Sevastopol, Republic of Crimea, Russia on Wednesday. Credit Sergei Chirikov/Epa-Efe, via Rex, via Shutterstock

A few weeks ago, as we planned our coverage of Russia’s election, my colleagues and I at Kommersant, a Moscow-based daily newspaper, discussed whether we should prepare an overview of the foreign policy proposals of all eight candidates running for president. I argued it wasn’t worth it. What’s the point in analyzing seven programs that have no chance of being carried out?

Vladimir Putin is all but certain to win re-election to his fourth term in office on Sunday. The other candidates are merely decorations, there to provide the election with a facade of procedural legitimacy. Mr. Putin didn’t even have a foreign policy program as part of his campaign.…  Seguir leyendo »

El pasado mes de noviembre se celebró en el Ultra Modern Art Museum de Moscú una exposición de corte patriótico en la que, sin atisbo alguno de ironía, una veintena de artistas retrató al presidente Vladímir Putin como un personaje dotado de superpoderes. Entre las distintas piezas expuestas, sobre todo pinturas de enorme tamaño en estilo cómic, destacaba una escultura de Putin cabalgando sobre un oso y portando la bandera de la Federación Rusa. Cualquiera que visite las numerosas tiendas de recuerdos instaladas en el centro de Moscú encontrará un sinnúmero de objetos con la imagen del presidente (incluida la falsa imagen de Putin y el oso), transformada en un atractivo turístico a la altura de las murallas del Kremlin o de las cúpulas de la catedral de San Basilio.…  Seguir leyendo »

Vladímir Putin va a ganar las elecciones presidenciales del 18 de marzo y renovará su mandato por seis años más hasta el 2024. De hecho, su victoria es tan inevitable que sus críticos se resisten a calificar los comicios de elecciones y optan por fórmulas como plebiscito, celebración, espectáculo o performance. Si se cumplen las previsiones, Putin obtendrá un respaldo de un 70% o superior, lo que hará innecesaria una segunda vuelta. Pero el éxito no radica en el porcentaje de votos sino en el alcance de la participación. El Kremlin necesita, como mínimo, igualar el 65% de 2012. La participación será así el indicador para medir el éxito o el fracaso de esta convocatoria.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Qué diferencia a Rusia de Estados Unidos si se trata de intervenciones electorales?

En Italia fueron sacos de dinero entregados en un hotel de Roma para los candidatos favorecidos. En Nicaragua se trató de historias escandalosas filtradas a diarios extranjeros para hacer cambiar el rumbo de una elección. En Serbia, millones de panfletos, carteles y calcomanías fueron impresos para intentar derrotar a un presidente que buscaba la reelección.

¿Estamos hablando de las herramientas con las que el gobierno de Vladimir Putin ha interferido en otros países? No, esos ejemplos son solo una pequeña muestra de la historia de las intervenciones estadounidenses en elecciones extranjeras.

El 13 de febrero, los directores estadounidenses de inteligencia advirtieron al Comité de Inteligencia del Senado de Estados Unidos que Rusia parece estar preparándose para repetir las mismas artimañas que desató en 2016 ahora que se aproximan las elecciones de mitad de periodo de 2018: ciberatacar, filtrar, manipular las redes sociales y quizá otras.…  Seguir leyendo »

People in prison garb wearing Hillary Clinton masks outside a Trump campaign event in 2016. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

It’s a Hollywood cliché that’s been adopted by villains from the trickster god Loki in Marvel’s “The Avengers” to James Bond’s “Skyfall” nemesis Raoul Silva: They are captured, only for the heroes to realize — too late! — that being caught was part of the villain’s evil plan all along. With Friday’s release of an indictment detailing Project Lakhta — the information operations component of Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election — it’s worth asking whether President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has been reading from a similar script.

The charging document released by the Justice Department names 13 Russian nationals associated with the innocuous-sounding “Internet Research Agency,” a team of well-funded professional trolls who carried out a disinformation campaign that spread from social media to real-world rallies.…  Seguir leyendo »

A picture taken on July 5, 2017 shows a souvenir kiosk offering among others a drawing depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin holding a baby with the face of US President Donald Trump, based upon a propaganda poster showing late soviet leader Joseph Stalin holding a baby, in Moscow. It was a constant refrain on the campaign trail for Donald Trump in his quest for the US presidency: "We're going to have a great relationship with Putin and Russia." Now, weighed down by claims that Moscow helped put him in the White House, Trump is set to finally meet his Russian counterpart in an encounter fraught with potential danger for the struggling American leader. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

To be a first-generation Russian-American in the age of Donald Trump is a somewhat nutty experience. As “Russians,” the identity into which we were born, we are now associated less with Dostoevsky and Pasternak, and more with election interference, troll farms, and other subversions of democracy. Yet as “Americans,” our hard-earned new identity, we are the citizens of the very democracy that the “Russians” are believed to have sabotaged. The set-up seems almost purposefully literary. In the age of Trump, we are America’s Trojan horse, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Raskolnikov and Svidrigailov in one person. If the Russians didn’t exist, it would have been a good idea to invent us.…  Seguir leyendo »