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13.11.2017
Why the Kremlin Needs Sobchak

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.
9.11.2017
Vicarious Self-Reflection: Russia’s Fascination With Catalonia

Vicarious Self-Reflection: Russia’s Fascination With Catalonia

Russians are surprisingly interested in the developments in Catalonia. Oddly enough, the running theme here is related to democracy. “Incompetent” democracy results in instability, so Russians take pity on the Spaniards and Catalonians: they no longer have the kind of stability that Russians do. The price of stability, however, is not up for discussion. Among other things, this approach contributes to sustaining the negative trend in relations between Russia and the EU.
31.10.2017
Russia’s New Bureaucracy Means Tougher Times for Putin’s Friends

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.
30.10.2017
What Does the Decline of Clans in the North Caucasus Mean for Moscow?

What Does the Decline of Clans in the North Caucasus Mean for Moscow?

Recent speculation that Russia wants to topple the “traditional” clan system in the North Caucasus misses the point: the clan system is in no way traditional, and it is collapsing on its own. The real question is whether the federal center will find other allies in the region when it falls.
27.10.2017
Croatia: Moscow’s New Ally, or a Brief Fling?

Croatia: Moscow’s New Ally, or a Brief Fling?

Despite a large-scale visit by the Croatian leadership to Russia, we shouldn’t expect breakthroughs in bilateral collaboration, or to see Croatia turn into a close Russian ally. Sanctions, falling oil prices, and long-term stagnation in both countries can’t be overcome by presidential meetings, and real economic ties between the two countries are still modest.
26.10.2017
The Instability Game: Easing Tensions Between Russia and the West in Moldova

The Instability Game: Easing Tensions Between Russia and the West in Moldova

To prevent further escalation, international actors should not play into Moldova’s divides. They must stop seeing Moldovan politicians as either friends or foes, and instead promote greater competition in the country’s politics. Otherwise, while pursuing their own geopolitical interests, Russia and the EU could both fall victim to manipulation by local politicians.
25.10.2017
Dagestan’s Main Problem Isn’t Clans. It’s the Russian System

Dagestan’s Main Problem Isn’t Clans. It’s the Russian System

Dagestan’s outgoing leader was also once presented as a figure who would instill order in the republic and combat clan rule. Indeed, Ramazan Abdulatipov tried to reform the regional elite. But clan rule, nepotism, corruption, and the threat of terrorism are still there four years later. It has proved impossible to modernize Dagestan without changing the Russian system as a whole.
24.10.2017
RIP Russian Banks: How to Resuscitate a Moribund System

RIP Russian Banks: How to Resuscitate a Moribund System

Watching the drama of Russia’s private banks collapsing one by one naturally triggers fear: of more than 3,000 registered banks, about 2,600 have already lost their licenses. After the bailout of Otkritie and BIN, the government’s share in Russia’s banking system assets exceeds 80 percent. Fixing Russia’s banking system requires addressing the deep and systematic flaws in the central bank and the financial sector at large.
19.10.2017
The Lubyanka Keeps Its Secrets: Russia and the Wallenberg Case

The Lubyanka Keeps Its Secrets: Russia and the Wallenberg Case

By refusing to open the archives of the interrogation of Raoul Wallenberg, the Russian intelligence service is proving that it aspires to be the heir of Stalin’s NKVD.
18.10.2017
Protests in Russia’s Far East Reveal the Dangers of Overcentralization

Protests in Russia’s Far East Reveal the Dangers of Overcentralization

In theory, the seizure of a greater share of Sakhalin’s resource wealth by the federal authorities could lead to a fairer distribution of wealth throughout the Russian Far East. The fear, however, is that further centralization of budgetary revenues will merely encourage the pursuit of vanity projects that will not come to fruition for over a decade, if ever.
16.10.2017
The Billionaire Adviser: A Story of Russia’s Anti-Corruption Campaign

The Billionaire Adviser: A Story of Russia’s Anti-Corruption Campaign

The story of the arrest of Oleg Korshunov, deputy director of Russia’s prison system, looks at first glance like a victory in an anti-corruption campaign. But the truth is much more complex. Korshunov merely operated too blatantly, his detention is unlikely to change much, and he may eventually get free on parole.
13.10.2017
Russia-UK Relations Post-Brexit: Opportunity or Dead End?

Russia-UK Relations Post-Brexit: Opportunity or Dead End?

The UK’s future security relationship with the EU will be of the utmost concern in light of Brexit. This will likely mean consistency in its foreign policy approach to Russia. That is not to say that constructive dialogue is not a genuine shared interest, but it will be in small measure at first rather than any post-Brexit grand agreement.
12.10.2017
The Fall of Russia’s Regional Governors

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.
11.10.2017
Putin’s Politicization of Soviet History

Putin’s Politicization of Soviet History

How does the Russian state manipulate history in its relations with society? Whom do Russians consider heroes, and what are the most sensitive historical topics in modern Russia? Andrei Kolesnikov explains how and why history is politicized in Russia today, and why this trend is unlikely to change.
10.10.2017
A Post-Soviet Anomaly: How Karabakh Could Bring Russia and the West Together

A Post-Soviet Anomaly: How Karabakh Could Bring Russia and the West Together

The conflict in Karabakh is the only one in the post-Soviet space where Russia and the West are ready to work together. But none of the mediators are currently discussing the core issues in the dispute.
9.10.2017
Sobchak for President: What the Rumors Reveal About Russian Politics

Sobchak for President: What the Rumors Reveal About Russian Politics

The possibility of TV anchor Ksenia Sobchak as a presidential candidate has morphed from the dream of one of Vedomosti’s Kremlin sources into a political fact and a model for all of Russian politics. It demonstrates the strategy and working style of the president’s administration and of Alexei Navalny, as well as the demand for any candidate other than Vladimir Putin.
6.10.2017
Looking Beyond 2018: Putin and the Technocrats

Looking Beyond 2018: Putin and the Technocrats

The 2018 Russian presidential election will be the beginning of Vladimir Putin’s presumed final act as he seeks to ascend to the pantheon of Russia’s great historical figures. But as Putin loses interest in some of the more down-to-earth details of government, the Kremlin is testing new models of technocratic rule in order to sustain the regime.
4.10.2017
Setting Conflict in Stone: Dangerous Trends in Russian-U.S. Relations

Setting Conflict in Stone: Dangerous Trends in Russian-U.S. Relations

Mutual lack of knowledge of the other and lack of institutional contact between foreign policy elites is promising an era of perpetual mistrust in U.S.-Russian relations.
3.10.2017
Diminishing Power of the Kremlin

Diminishing Power of the Kremlin

The Kremlin may refrain from curbing ultraconservative activism and Kadyrov’s insurgence because it is afraid of losing popular support. But perhaps more likely is that the regime fears engaging its supporters, as they may prove to be more powerful. The growing strength of radical actors has collided with an impotent regime and generated demand for an alternative force, creating an opening for the opposition.
28.09.2017
A U.N. Peacekeeping Operation Is the Only Way Forward In Ukraine

A U.N. Peacekeeping Operation Is the Only Way Forward In Ukraine

A complete cessation of violence in southeastern Ukraine, the essential first condition of Minsk implementation, requires nothing less than a full-scale peacekeeping operation authorized by the U.N. Security Council.
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