Putinology

16.12.2016

Putin Bides His Time: The Kremlin’s Transition Strategy

Vladimir Putin’s annual address to the Federation Council typically lets him map out the country’s foreign and domestic policy course for the coming year. Yet Putin’s speech this time—one of his longest and strangest ever—was essentially an admission that he has little sense of what the events of the coming months will bring or how he plans to deal with them.
8.11.2016

Russian Politics in Ruins: What Vyacheslav Volodin Left Behind

The political system Volodin leaves behind—that is, a system without any real politics—allows the regime the illusion of control. But the system’s domain has been all but reduced to the tiny world of politicians who agree to the Kremlin’s rules. Activists, ambitious players, and most importantly Russian citizens find themselves outside the bounds of politics.
2.11.2016

A Russian Reformer Returns to Power—But What For?

What will the two recently appointed behind-the-scenes technocrats, Sergei Kiriyenko and Anton Vaino, do in the Kremlin? They will have no say in foreign policy, and even in domestic politics they cannot change course unless the president desires it. It seems that both are awaiting orders. They must have a mission of some sort, a specific project to carry out. But what is it?
2.11.2016

Sergei Kiriyenko: The Dreamer in the Kremlin

Many say Sergei Kiriyenko, the new deputy chief of staff of the presidential administration, is a technocrat who was brought in to manage a well-established political system. But there’s more to Kiriyenko: like other disciples of the philosopher Georgy Shchedrovitsky, Kiriyenko believes that reality can be altered and society programmed.
12.10.2016

Kremlin-Duma Reshuffle Offers False Hope to Russian Reformers

The nominal architects of the internal political machine must be replaced with operators: people who will manage the status quo without changing its fundamental principles. This is the role that Sergei Kiriyenko is going to play. It’s a case of the trends dictating the logic of the management, rather than the manager setting the trends.
28.09.2016

Looking to 2018: The Kremlin Plans Its Next Election

The Russian authorities delivered a resounding victory for the ruling party in the 2016 parliamentary election after reaching the conclusion that they showed weakness in 2011 and the Russian opposition exploited that. This will shape their strategy for the next presidential election in 2018.
16.09.2016

The Hidden Agenda of Russia’s Parliamentary Elections

The detailed results of the forthcoming elections to Russia’s lower house of parliament are less important than the conclusions the Kremlin draws from them. Vladimir Putin’s system is less and less interested in old-style political competition. The new Duma can become a launching pad for those who want to make their careers in the new Putin elite that forms after the 2018 presidential election.
30.08.2016

The Battle for Bashneft

In the past, business deals could be secured if Putin endorsed them personally. Now, the Russian president seems to have stopped making promises to anyone; no deal is ironclad anymore.
24.08.2016

Out With the Old, In With the New for Russia’s Political Elite

Putin won’t take all the members of the old guard with him in 2018. They will be replaced by a generation of special service operatives, security guards, and technocrat-apparatchiks in their forties and fifties, who will stand by Putin in 2018 and beyond
23.08.2016

Russian-Turkish Relations: Quick to Destroy, Slower to Mend

While the Erdogan-Putin summit in St. Petersburg on August 9 aimed to end the conflict between the two presidents triggered by Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet last year, upbeat reports and promises of eternal friendship conceal a long list of problems that can’t be solved any time soon
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