Vladimir Putin’s proposed constitutional reforms will transform Russia’s political regime and allow him to prolong his grip on power when his fourth presidential term expires in 2024.
While Putin mentioned a popular vote on the constitutional changes (which is not required by law), it is important to note that he didn’t use the term ‘referendum’, which would have mandated that the results be acted upon. Regardless, it is clear that he will be seeking electoral legitimacy for these reforms in forthcoming elections. The current federal electoral cycle starts next year and will end in 2024 with the presidential election.
The key question now is how Putin will maintain control over the siloviki, Russia’s political elite, though he has made this task easier for himself by replacing some of the strongest players with mid-level officers and weakening the authority of those who remain.… Seguir leyendo »
Climate change debates have not taken root in Russia. Yet, while speaking at an energy forum in Moscow, Vladimir Putin chose to comment on Greta Thunberg, the prominent 16-year-old Swedish eco-activist. Adopting his usual sarcastically condescending persona, Putin expressed regret that the ‘kind’ and ‘very sincere’ girl was being used by adults for their own political interests in such a ‘cruel, emotional way’.
These remarks may appear to have been intended to dismiss Thunberg’s environmental concerns. However, among the Russian public, concern about climate change is not widespread.
Fridays for Future, the movement started by Thunberg, received little uptake in Russia, inspiring less than 100 people to take to the streets in September.… Seguir leyendo »
The disqualification of opposition candidates ahead of an election to Moscow’s city duma on 8 September have spurred the largest protests seen in the city since 2011–12. Increasing waves of mass protests reached around 50,000 participants on 10 August, and there is no sign of them stopping. Nikolai Petrov explains the implications of these protests and the Kremlin’s response.
Why have these protests emerged now?
Since the announcement of pensions reform last year [when the government raised the retirement age without public discussion or explanation, to widespread outcry], there has been huge disappointment with the government in general and Putin in particular, which has led to a decline in Putin’s approval ratings.… Seguir leyendo »
How have the methods of political control of the Russian elite changed over the past few years?
Starting from 2014, what I would call political repression has become more common, and it has become a very important tool. There has been a stable, high level of arrests within certain groups of elites – or even in some cases, a spiral of repression where the number and intensity of the punishments continually increases.
If you look at the targets, you can see that these people are not the most corrupt, nor did they violate any informal ‘rules of the game’. They were chosen just to send signals to certain groups within the elite, whether that be corporate leadership or governors and regional political elites – or even officers in the security services.… Seguir leyendo »