Following Orders: Putin’s New Strongmen Governors

President Putin has appointed military and security strongmen to be governors in three regions and removed an unpopular local leader in Sevastopol. He wants to tighten control ahead of the parliamentary elections.

Putin Indulges the Duma

Putin’s address was deeply conservative in content and artfully liberal in rhetoric. He frames being elected to the Duma as being elevated to the ranks of the chosen few. The right to be a Putinist is celebrated, and it’s out of the question that the institution might let in “irresponsible forces”: real threats to power.

Putin, the Caring Candidate

Vladimir Putin’s performance at the annual nationwide “direct line” phone-in shows he is again prioritizing domestic politics. His answers signaled the start of a 2018 reelection campaign, as he presented himself not as the global strategist of last year but as a domestic manager once again concerned with ordinary people’s problems.

Putin’s National Guard Gambit

President Putin’s formation of a new National Guard gives him extra powers as a time of political uncertainty begins. It also helps him cut some strong individuals down to size.

Two Years After Crimea: The Evolution of a Political Regime

The system, its leader, and the popular majority formed after Crimea will survive the 2018 presidential election. The existing regime is incapable of democratization. At the same time, it is dangerous to ratchet up repression. The government is trying to encourage inertia, but this is becoming increasingly difficult after Crimea, Donbas, Syria, and Turkey. Aggression is self-perpetuating.

Government by Proxy: Putin’s New Appointees

The appointment of a new head to Russia’s development bank VEB is an example of a new technocratic shift to deal with the economic crisis. These technocrats are generally proxies for powerful figures in the elite. Eventually, they could become an elite of their own.

No Longer the People's President: the New Putin

Vladimir Putin has stopped being the charismatic champion of the people and become the champion of the elite. He has changed into Putin the Strategist, focused on geopolitics. Losing interest in the detail of domestic policy, he has become part of the oligarchic system he created.

Putin’s Theater: Signs and Slogans for the Russian Elite

President Putin’s annual national addresses are short of ideas, but serve the purpose of sending signals to the Russian elite. This year, Putin underlined the idea of Russia as a nation under siege.

Warriors vs Merchants: Russia’s Foreign Policy Rivals

Vladimir Putin takes advice from three distinct groups of foreign policy ideologists who can be labeled warriors, merchants, and pious believers. Each of them serves a role, but they have very different views of how Russia should develop.

Re-defining Yalta: Putin at the UN

Putin is laying claim to the legacy of the 1945 Yalta conference. But Russia's attempts to rewrite history to justify its current policies are not working.
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