• Commentary

    Project Inertia: The Outlook for Putin’s Fourth Term

    Do not expect modernization after Putin’s 2018 reelection. Instead, the system he built will function on autopilot as the Russian leader continues to lose direct control over events, ideas, and actions. But that doesn’t imply democratization. In essence, the head of state finds himself chained to the galley that he built himself.

    • Commentary

    Putin 4.0: The President’s New Modus Operandi

    Vladimir Putin is sending out signals about how he sees his fourth presidential term. Domestic initiatives are not a presidential priority and will be dealt with at the technocratic level. In the political sphere, the real threat to Putin’s power comes from the moderate opposition. Above all, there is to be no more democratic window dressing. Preparations are well under way for a new act.

    • Commentary

    Between Night and Day: Who Will Control Putin’s Fourth Term?

    As President Putin approaches his fourth term, his personal power is diminishing. In the recent corruption case against Minister Ulyukayev, the licensing of European University, and lawsuits against Sistema Financial Corporation, Putin has been either unwilling or unable to interfere. With the president off to the sidelines, there are signs that Russia’s “night rulers” are expanding their power.

    • Commentary

    How Regime Self-Preservation Could Accidentally Democratize Russia

    Political elites enjoy the best possible social status by virtue of their position, and by definition cannot want change. Long-term planning therefore shouldn’t be viewed in absolute terms, even if it’s reform-minded. Democratization is much more likely to be accidental, occurring when the regime takes steps intended to increase its authority that weaken it instead.

    • Commentary

    Russia’s Regions Strike Back: Provincial Leaders Want More From Moscow

    Russian regional leaders are rediscovering their power and their ability to fight with Moscow over budgets and autonomy. Discontent over Moscow siphoning off regional funds has reached a breaking point, while Tatarstan is in a new contest with the center over regional language rights.

    • Commentary

    Nobody’s President? Putin Enters the Era of Transition

    The 2018 election in Russia is turning into a real political event. Putin is an undeclared candidate and Navalny is an unregistered one, who will have a real influence. The Kremlin is now run by regents around a diminished president, and discussion is already focusing on what the post-Putin era will look like.

    • Commentary

    Taking the Plunge: Russia’s New Managerial Class

    Russian new regional governors are being given a version of Western-style management training perfected by Sberbank boss German Gref. They are like managerial special ops forces deployed behind enemy lines by Moscow.

    • Commentary

    Why the Kremlin Needs Sobchak

    Ksenia Sobchak’s run for the Russian presidency is not meant to siphon votes away from Alexei Navalny. The Kremlin’s aim is to create a pseudo-opposition, which will channel the discontents of the liberal urban electorate.

    • Commentary

    Russia’s New Bureaucracy Means Tougher Times for Putin’s Friends

    The non-system elite makes a mistake by still treating Putin and the formal state as one and the same. We are witnessing a new era in which the powerful and ambitious non-system elite will face a solid, technocratic, and emotionless power vertical stuffed with “little people.” Putin’s associates will have to learn to adjust, or they’ll find themselves in deep trouble.

    • Commentary

    The Fall of Russia’s Regional Governors

    Recent firings of regional governors have dealt yet another blow to Russian federalism. Russians are again being taught that regional autonomy is unnecessary because Moscow knows best.

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