An Alekseyeva Lesson Russians Haven’t Learned: Far More has to Be Changed than Just the Leader

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 9, 2018) Vladimir Putin casts such a dark shadow on Russia that it is perhaps no surprise that many in the opposition believe, as commentator Aleksandr Rusin puts it today, that finding and installing a new leader is “the chief issue of present-day Russia” and that “everything else is secondary” (publizist.ru/blogs/110401/28399/-). […]

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How to think about Russia without Putin; “Russia without Putin” is more than a slogan. It’s an analytical claim.

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(opendemocracy.net – Karine Clement – November 20, 2018) Karine Clément is a sociologist and research associate at CERCEC/EHESS (Paris). [opendemocracy.net/od-russia/karine-clement/how-to-think-about-russia-without-putin] A review of Tony Wood, Russia Without Putin: Money, Power and the Myths of the New Cold War (Verso Books). [Amazon: amazon.com/gp/product/1788731247/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1788731247&linkCode=as2&tag=faitcent-20&linkId=ecd69929f1165153c42f42523c2d050c] [Amazon promo: How the West’s obsession with Vladimir Putin prevents it from understanding Russia It is impossible to […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Most Russians Don’t See Armenia-Style Revolution as Possible in Their Country – Poll” – Moscow Times/VTsIOM

File Photo of Revolutionaries Marching in Moscow in 1917, adapted from image at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 11, 2018) More than three-quarters of Russians surveyed by the state-run VTsIOM pollster said they do not foresee a repeat of the peaceful revolution witnessed in Armenia in the past month as being possible in their country. Protest leader Nikol Pashinyan was voted in as Armenia’s prime minister by the country’s parliament on Tuesday […]

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Like Soviet one, Putin system can’t be reformed, only destroyed and replaced, Inozemtsev says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – April 27, 2018) One of the many debates that riled Western studies of the Soviet Union concerned whether that system could ever be reformed or would have to be destroyed and then replaced with something else. Some political analysts insisted that of course it could be reformed, while those who came out of […]

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A Military Coup Against Putin Although Unlikely Cannot Now be Excluded, Felgengauer Says

Russian Soldiers Marching

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 28, 2018) Tensions within the Russian political elite are now higher than at any point in years, Pavel Felgengauer says; and as a result, he “does not exclude even a military coup in Russia. This perhaps is an extremely low probability scenario, but one must not exclude it completely.” Felgengauer, one […]

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New Sanctions Won’t Spark Conspiracy Against Putin or Reverse His Policies, Shevtsova Says

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 7, 2018) The new sanctions the US has announced will hurt the Russian oligarchs but they will not lead to a conspiracy against Putin because “the main source of their incomes is in Russia and they are completely dependent on the orders of the president,” Liliya Shevtsova says. And they haven’t […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia stuck in a groove as Putin faces existential quandary” – Asia Times/Sergey Aleksashenko

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

“Vladimir Putin will be elected to another six-year term on March 18 – and his country’s economic and political environment will continue to deteriorate. What remains to be seen is whether he will change the constitution to stay in power beyond 2024 …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia on the Eve of its Presidential Election: How Long Can Change and Stasis Coexist?” [Excerpt] – PONARS Eurasia/Nikolay Petrov

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

[Full text: ponarseurasia.org/memo/russia-eve-its-presidential-election-how-long-can-change-and-stasis-coexist] Nikolay Petrov is Professor of Political Science at the Higher School of Economics (Russia). He was previously Chair of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Society and Regions Program. (PONARS Policy Memo) At last, Vladimir Putin has decided that he will indeed be a candidate in the 2018 presidential election. Considering how long he has been in charge, it […]

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NEWSLINK: “2018 election is no problem for Putin – but what about 2024? Vladimir Putin dominates Russian politics, but legally he can only serve two terms” – The Guardian/Shaun Walker

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

“… With nothing much at stake this time around, the Kremlin’s most pressing problem for the 2018 vote is ensuring enough people show up on polling day to make the turnout percentage respectable – which the opposition are trying to bring down through calls for a boycott. The problems on the 2024 horizon are far more serious. …”

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin will elevate loyalty over all in his next presidency” – RaamopruslandNL/ Mark Galeotti

Putin Descending a Staircase

“Is Putin’s grip on power still as strong as ever? Some observers are … presenting him as some kind of a ‘lame duck president’, even as he prepares to be re-elected yet again. … Mark Galeotti suggests such talk misrepresents the nature of power in today’s Russia. ‘Power is the capacity to act and get away with it’ …. Putin […]

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Central Banker Named Putin Heir in Doomsday Prediction

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – December 19, 2017) President Vladimir Putin will continue to rule behind the scenes after installing the current Central Bank chairwoman as his proxy, the Bloomberg news agency predicted in its annual worst-case scenario guide on Monday. Putin, who announced plans to seek a fourth term this month, is widely expected to win the 2018 presidential […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Re-election Is Assured. Let the Succession Fight Begin” – New York Times/Neil MacFarquhar, Ivan Nechepurenko, Oleg Matsnev

Putin Descending a Staircase

“Ask Russian analysts to describe the coming presidential election campaign, and their answers contain a uniform theme: a circus, a carnival, a sideshow. What they do not call it is a real election. With the victory of President Vladimir V. Putin assured, the real contest, analysts said, is the bare-knuckled, no-holds-barred fight to determine who or what comes after him […]

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Neither Russians nor the West Understand the Full Dimensions of What’s Happening in Moscow, Gudkov Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 29, 2017) Neither in Russia nor in the West is there a good understanding of the full dimensions of what is now taking place in Russia, Levada Center director Lev Gudkov say, with people in both places living with illusions that reflect more what they want to believe than the disturbing […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Celebrates an Uncomfortable Centennial” – Stratfor.com

File photo of Czar Nicholas II in Military Uniform Outdoors with Soldiers in Background, adapted from image at defense.gov

“The centennial anniversary of the launch of the Russian Revolution on Nov. 7 will serve as a haunting reminder for Russia’s current leaders that their power is finite. … a year after Russia observed the 25th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union, a similarly unsettling marker for the [Putin] government … facing opposition from within its own ranks and on […]

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‘Rejection of Revolution Not a Mandate for Stagnation,’ Nezavisimaya Gazeta Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 24, 2017) Vladimir Putin twice last week spoke of evolution as “a positive alternative to revolution,” the editors of Nezavisimaya Gazeta say; but in fact, he has taken the rejection of revolution as an alternative to be de facto a mandate for stagnation in Russia rather than a call for gradual […]

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Lame-Duck Putinism

Putin at Desk

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org Brian Whitmore – September 1, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/lame-duck-putinism/28709290.html) An association of “patriotic entrepreneurs” is proposing that the Russian central bank issue a new 10,000 ruble banknote featuring Vladimir Putin’s likeness. Now you can read that a couple ways. The simplest, of course, is that it’s nothing more than […]

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Kremlin Can Count on Eight Kinds of Defenders of Status Quo, Shevtsova Says

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 29, 2017) Every system if it is going to survive needs people who will defend it; and the Putin regime is no different. In fact, in addition to its open propagandists, the Kremlin today has eight different kinds of the defenders of the status quo, according to Moscow analyst Lidiya Shevtsova. […]

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Life After Putin?

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – August 29, 2017 – rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-transcript-life-after-putin/28703034.html) Is Vladimir Putin about to get his very own banknote? Could be. An association of entrepreneurs has recently proposed that the Russian central bank issue a commemorative 10,000-ruble note featuring Putin’s likeness. Now you can read this a couple ways. The simplest, […]

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Putin’s Would-Be Successors Ranked Ahead of 2018 Elections

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 21, 2017) Ahead of presidential elections scheduled for March next year, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and opposition firebrand Alexei Navalny are among President Vladimir Putin’s potential successors, according to a new ranking produced by a Russian think-tank. Published by the independent Peterburgskaya Politika NGO on Monday, the list casts current […]

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A Lesson for Today: August 1991 Coup Failed because KGB Didn’t Support It, Gennady Gudkov Says

File Photo of Gennady Gudkov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 20, 2017) Force structures have invariably played a key role in all revolutions, revolts, or palace coups, either by supporting the incumbent regime or supporting its challengers, Gennady Gudkov says; and August 1991 was no exception because in his view, the attempted coup failed because it did not have the backing […]

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Only an Anti-War Movement Can Shatter the Putin Regime, Yakovenko Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Staunton, August 15, 2017) There are anti-war attitudes in Russia, Igor Yakovenko says; but “there is no anti-war movement” despite the fact that Russia has been killing people in Ukraine for four years and in Syria for two and the even more significant problem for the country that “Putin is war.” Instead of focusing on creating such […]

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Like the Tsarist One a Century Ago, ‘Putin’s System Could Fall Apart in a Single Day,” Gontmakher Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 27, 2017) A century ago, Nicholas II looked all powerful and yet he was overthrown and his country disintegrated, Yevgeny Gontmakher says; and today, Vladimir Putin looks even more powerful and with far greater popular support but because of the shortcomings of his system, it could “fall apart in a single day.” […]

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Russian Futurologists Missing the Most Important Point, Shelin Says

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 22, 2017) Russian futurology, currently experiencing an unprecedented boom, is focusing on the question of who might succeed Vladimir Putin rather than on the more important question of what kind of a country Putin or someone else will have to rule, according to Rosbalt commentator Sergey Shelin. Shelin says that most […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin Says Yet to Decide Whether to Run for President Again” – Reuters

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

“… Putin said on Friday he had not yet decided whether to run for re-election in 2018, but promised not to change the constitution to allow him to keep on running for Russia’s top political post indefinitely. … Speaking during a question-and-answer session with school children in the Black Sea resort of Sochi which analysts said was designed to widen […]

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Free Russia Forum Outlines What a Post-Putin Russia Must Do to Rejoin Civilized World

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 20, 2017) The Free Russia Forum, a group of opposition politicians and analysts, says that a post-Putin Russia can only rejoin the civilized world if it operates under the principles of the primacy of law in all spheres of life. Otherwise, it will be “impossible” to build a law-based state and […]

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VIDEO NEWSWATCH: “Is Vladimir Putin’s big collapse coming soon? Author Richard Lourie talks about how Putin’s failure to wean Russia off oil will destroy the nation’s economy” – Salon/ Richard Lourie / Carrie Sheffield

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Salon – July 18, 2017 – from: salon.com/2017/07/18/watch-is-vladimir-putins-big-collapse-coming-soon/) “Salon Talks sat down with Richard Lourie to discuss his book, “Putin: His Downfall and Russia’s Coming Crash.” Lourie argues that Vladimir Putin’s Russia will collapse, just as Imperial Russia did in 1917 and the Soviet Union did in 1991. He cites the Russian president’s failure to move the nation’s economy from […]

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Any Successor of Putin Likely to Be a Dictator Unless Society Gets Organized, Pastukhov Says

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 12, 2017) The current attacks on Aleksey Navalny that suggest he will become a dictator if he manages somehow to defeat Vladimir Putin reflect the utopianism of the Russian intelligentsia and its failure to understand that anyone who succeeds the current Kremlin leader is likely to be one as long as […]

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Could Putin Be Ousted the Way Khrushchev Was – and for the Same Reason?

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 11, 2017) Most Russians today associate Nikita Khrushchev with the thaw, de-Stalinization, and the opening of more comfortable five-story apartment blocks; but they did to forget that he was removed from power by his colleagues because he ran the country in a hands on way, intervening in some of the smallest […]

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NEWSLINK: “Putin the Balancer: Containing and Balancing Russia’s Multifarious Forces through Soft Authoritarianism” – Russian and Eurasian Politics/ Gordon M. Hahn

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

“… This suggests that to some extent, not just its policies but the regime itself may be malleable to change depending on the tenor or face (as well as potential threat) it presents to representatives of the ‘sistema’. Remember most observers assume Putin was really the man in charge during Medvedev’s thaw. Liberals, in particular the rather rabid liberal intelligentsia, […]

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Putin Regime Likely to End by Only One of Five Scenarios Now On Offer, Eidman Says

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 1, 2017) Many analysts in Russia and the West are now openly talking about how the regime of Vladimir Putin could come to an end, making predictions that in many cases appear to be more an expression of their preferences than of the actual prospects of any one of them coming […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Dissent Shakes the Foundation of the Kremlin’s Power” – Stratfor

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

… Most of the dissidence in Russia today does not come in response to a specific incident – such as the electoral fraud that incited mass demonstrations in 2011-12 – but to the country’s political system more generally. With a few exceptions, rather than targeting the president himself, the current protests are aimed at corruption or economic stagnation. … To […]

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Might Putin Name His Own Successor? — and for Same Reasons Yeltsin Did in 1999?

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 6, 2017) Most Moscow commentators believe that Vladimir Putin will run and win re-election in 2018, but some are speculating that he might decide to depart the scene by naming his own successor, thereby defining the future course of the country and protecting himself much as Boris Yeltsin did with his selection […]

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Russians Remain Too Atomized and Lacking in Empathy to Make a Revolution, Kirillova Says

File Photo of Revolutionaries Marching in Moscow in 1917, adapted from image at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 2, 2017) Many nations facing the difficulties #Russians now are would #revolutionary change [sic], but Russians are unlikely to do so, Kseniya Kirillova says, because they remain far too atomized and far too lacking in empathy to look beyond their immediate personal problems and identify with the problems of others. The […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Power brokers in the Kremlin jostle to succeed Putin; President’s authoritarianism has barred the rise of any challenger” – Financial Times/ Kathrin Hille, Henry Foy

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“More than 17 years after … Putin became president, the authoritarian system he built is showing signs of internal corrosion. … Navalny’s ambitions are not expected to undo … Putin’s re-election bid. But the uncertainty over what comes next is stirring ambitions and sparking jostling among power brokers in the Kremlin and across Russia. … Putin remains the supreme arbiter of Russia’s politics. […]

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NEWSLINK: “Unquiet American; Putin is unlikely to be brought in from the cold, says former U.S. envoy to Moscow Michael McFaul” – Politico.eu

Ambassador Mike McFaul file photo

“… How does the #Putin era end? ‘When Putin is no longer in power,’ responds #McFaul. ‘And I think he’ll stay in power for as long as he can.’ A natural end to Putin’s presidency is ‘unlikely,’ he says, ‘given the kind of system he’s built around himself, that really relies on one charismatic individual at its core.’ The #Russians […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Four Warning Signs Of Instability In Russia” – Forbes.com/George Friedman

Russia Regions Map

“Russia has four areas of instability: the distribution and prevalence of wage arrears, pressure on its banking system, low-level social and economic unrest, and government purges. … Russia’s economy is highly regionalized. More than a fifth of Russia’s wealth comes from Moscow and its surrounding areas. The central government keeps the Russian Federation together by redistributing wealth to the interior. […]

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With Reforms Impossible, Some Russians Predict Revolution, Baklanov Says

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 2, 2016) Given that Vladimir #Putin has signaled that any serious reforms in the near term are unlikely or even impossible, ever more #Russians are predicting revolution, especially as that country enters the centenary of the two revolutions of 1917, Aleksandr Baklanov says. That doesn’t mean that a revolution will happen […]

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Russians Turning Against Putin Regime Thus Making Revolutionary Change More Likely, Solovey Says

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 30, 2016) Deep background sociological research is showing that Russia is at the beginning of “a significant transformation of mass consciousness” that will eliminate much of the loyalty to the regime that the populace now shows in a way that will recall what happened at the end of Soviet times, Valery […]

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New Russian Consensus Reflects National Masochism, Rosbalt Commentator Says

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 4, 2016) This year has been marked by the rise in Russia of a new “societal agreement” on three points: that the country is in stagnation and will remain so for a long time, that Putin will stay in office “until the end of life (his or ours), and that “after […]

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Expert: Putin’s Reported Plan to Restore KGB May Reflect Fear of Overthrow

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Jim Kovpak – MOSCOW, September 26, 2016) The consolidation of Russia’s intelligence agencies into a massive security ministry, in effect recreating the old Soviet KGB, is a worrisome prospect for some Kremlin watchers. The plan reportedly under discussion would merge the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s principal security agency, the Foreign Intelligence Service and […]

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Duma Vote Shows Changes Won’t Come in Russia via Elections, Commentators Say

Russian State Duma Building file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 19, 2016) The most important feature of the Duma Elections was unprecedentedly low level of participation, a reflection of the Russian population’s symmetrical response to the Kremlin’s contempt for its views and an indication that change in Russia “will not come via elections but as a result of some sort of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Chance to Change History” – Stratfor

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

Twenty-five years ago, an unsuccessful coup attempt, known as the August Coup, was launched by a group of hawkish Communist Party members and security elites against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, in what was widely seen as one of the key moments that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. * * * A keen student of history, Vladimir Putin […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian Public Assessments of the Putin Policy Program: Achievements and Challenges” – John P. Willerton/Russian Politics

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

A decade and a half into the Putin team’s tenure, what are Russians’ policy concerns, and how do they accord with Putin team priorities and actions? What is the level of public support for Putin and his team, and how do Russians assess the Putin team’s policy record to date? * * * … survey results reveal that Putin and […]

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Putin Regime Now in Trouble for Seven Reasons, Solovey Says

Putin at Desk

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 10, 2016) MGIMO Professor Valery Solovey says that the Putin system if not Vladimir Putin personally is in trouble for seven reasons, most of which are of its own creation but few of which it has a chance of escaping at least in the near term because of the paranoid style […]

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Putin’s Apparent Cancellation of Three Domestic Trips This Week Sparks Speculation

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, July 7, 2016) Vladimir Putin reportedly has cancelled three domestic trips that he had been scheduled to make this week – to the Altay, Sakha and Nizhny Novgorod – and has not appeared in public since returning from Finland, a pattern that is already leading to speculation about his health physical or […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Why IR Theory Gets Russia Wrong; Moscow’s Predictably Unpredictable Politics” – Foreign Affairs/Timothy Frye

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

With Russia’s economy sagging, support for the government falling, and even … Putin’s sky-high approval ratings beginning to come down to earth, there has been no shortage of speculation about Russia’s political stability. Some argue that a collapse of the Putin regime is imminent … others are more cautious. * * * Russia is oil-rich, but less so than many […]

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Degradation of Russian Elites Underlies Russia’s Decline, Pastukhov Says

Russia Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 24, 2016) “The thinning out of the Russian ‘cultural stratum’ and, as a result, the degradation of elites who have turned out to be incapable of responding to new historical challenges,” Vladimir Pastukhov says, is the underlying cause of the current decline of the country. All other causes, technological, societal and […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Don’t Rock the Boat: How Long Can Putin Avoid Capsizing?” – Carnegie Moscow Center/Andrei Kolesnikov

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

Some Russian experts are predicting that the current Russian regime will last another ten years. Change is inevitable, but no one can forecast what form it will take. In the short term, the trend is for inertia and no change. What will the Russian political landscape look like a decade from now? Is Russia slipping back to the Soviet past […]

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Putinism won’t end with a bang, but a warrant; New charges concerning several leading Russian officials reveal the greatest threat to the Kremlin’s hold on power – elite corruption.

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(opendemocracy.net – Mark Galeotti – May 10, 2016) Mark Galeotti is currently Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and a visiting fellow at the ECFR, although from August he will be principal director of the Mayak Intelligence consultancy in Prague and senior researcher at the Czech Institute for International Relations. He blogs on Russian security affairs at In […]

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