Court and Politburo: Putin’s Changing Inner Circle

Vladimir Putin’s elite can be called a Politburo 2.0, whose members each have a delegated role in political life. But Putin also has a court, which shuns publicity and exercises informal power in everything from foreign policy to cultural life. This system looks increasingly difficult to manage as Putin approaches his fourth term.

A New Russian for the Old President

Vladimir Putin’s recent conversations with “ordinary Russians” are not an attempt to engage in direct democracy. Rather, they are intended to present the president with a new, artificial image of the Russian people; Kremlin officials are manufacturing conversations in which ordinary Russians are shown to be concerned with the same issues as their president.

Putin’s Post-Political Government

This year’s Direct Line with Vladimir Putin revealed that politics has been entirely removed from the public sphere in Russia. Government decisions are now made with zero input from the people.

The Accidental Formation of Russia’s War Coalition

The Ukraine war that broke out in 2014 became possible due to the governmentalizing of the Russian economy during the 2008 crisis. But these actions didn’t anticipate war. The manual control of the Russian economy formed to fight the crisis became an important component in fighting sanctions, and even in equipping the Donbas. But it was initially planned for different needs.

The Test for Russia Is Not the 2018 Election But What Follows

The 2018 presidential election in Russia is expected to go ahead without a hitch for Putin, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see other problems in 2018. The real challenge will be the mismatch between the public’s expectations and the decisions that the regime will inevitably have to make after the election.

The Race to Be Putin’s Next Prime Minister Is Heating Up

How can Vladimir Putin avoid the political fallout that will inevitably come from firing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev? Facing corruption allegations and losing support within the government, Medvedev is quickly becoming a “suitcase without a handle” for Putin.

“We Went Skiing”: How the Kremlin Lost the Ability to Speak Normally

Russian authorities have nothing else to say because they have lost the ability to communicate either in real or in virtual time, and they have never learned the language of today’s reality. In this reality, not all dissent is political; some of it is a moral stance against dishonesty.

Russia’s New Old Wave of Technocratic Governors

Revitalizing regional governance will only be possible if the Kremlin changes federal budget appropriations to benefit the provinces in addition to appointing ambitious young governors. Recent gubernatorial appointments should thus be seen as little more than a shrewd PR move by Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration Sergey Kiriyenko and his team.

Opposition From Within: Russia’s New Counter-Elite

In political systems that block change through elections, the main guarantee of a regime’s stability is its capacity to absorb a potential counter-elite. At the moment, the regime is preventing any such renewal from occurring. Yet a counter-elite is in the process of formation nonetheless—one that can eventually take Russia in a new direction.

The Beginning of the End of Russia’s Power Vertical

Instead of consolidating in the run-up to the 2018 presidential election, Russian elites have started making the structures they manage more autonomous. Uncertain about the future of the system, governors, directors of state-run enterprises, and heads of state bodies are carving out their own personal empires. Once centripetal, the Russian political system is now governed by centrifugal forces.
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