The growing uncertainty surrounding Russia’s future, even in the short-term, has motivated the participants of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s “Russia-2020” project to resume work on a range of predictive scenarios. On this occasion, the timeline has been extended until 2025—the theoretical limit of Putin’s presidency, an admittedly somewhat arbitrary date. Looking forward from 2012, the authors attempt to examine certain key trends in a number of different areas of the country’s development.
The Political Cycles of Post-Soviet Transition
From the point of view of “the big transition,” Putin’s “stability,” itself largely revanchist in nature, was a short respite, not a long-term equilibrium. The fact that several of the key questions of the post-Soviet period went unanswered during the last reformist cycle means that they must come up again during the next cycle. The 2010s are bound to become a period of dramatic new exploration in this direction. Using the duration of the previous cycles as a guide, we can expect the current one to last for most of the decade.
Russian Regime Dynamics
The growth achieved in the 2000s brought public support not only because it was rapid by global standards, but also because it came against the backdrop of one of the most horrendous economic depressions ever to have befallen a society in peacetime. The success of the 2000s may ultimately have laid a trap of expectations for the regime’s staying in power for a long time by setting the bar above what can likely be sustained beyond the initial recovery from the 1990s. Thus the desire to achieve more can lead to a sense of a need for change.
After Bolotnaia: A “New Normal” in Public Politics
The fact that, post-crisis, the “new normal” of Russian politics more closely links people’s expectations about the future with their feelings about the way the country is governed—appears an important development. If this pattern holds, Russians may pay more attention to what politicians say (and do not say) about policy, which may in turn behoove politicians to say more and to mean more. Аttaching public meaning to the practice of policy may not be a bad place to start.
Civic Activism in Russia and Western Experience
In the short term, the state will be able to employ repressive measures to marginalize NGOs, despite the changes in Russian society that began in the fall of 2011 and have since led to a general spike in political activity. The state has the power to liquidate NGOs, to force them to operate outside of the law or to adapt their work to the goals of the regime. But society’s experience of involvement in public and political life has not disappeared without a trace. On the contrary, it continues to grow.
The Developmental Framework of the Russian Political System
The abundance of oil in the last decade has allowed the regime to create a “power-andproperty” vertical monopoly that clearly conflicted with the development of the market economy and the maturation of the sociopolitical order. This strategy has finally run its course. The regime is unlikely to survive a socioeconomic crisis by either liberal or authoritarian means. Further political development will either follow the path of “direct democratization” or “democratization after the collapse of authoritarianism.”
From а Federation of Corporations to а Federation of Regions
The decline in the legitimacy of the Putin administration, which, until recently, had served as the basis of political stability, along with his inability to adapt to changing external conditions, have presented the elites with the choice of either maintaining unconditional loyalty to the present leader at the risk of the collapse of the entire political system, or backing a new leader in an attempt to save themselves. A consolidated stance in favor of the second option could result from Kremlin policies that significantly affect the interests of the elite or from a radical destabilization of the system as a whole.
Becoming Modern Russian Style
With the onset of a new era of party formation inaugurated by the 2011/12 protests, the opposition will remain fragmented, and it is unlikely that a new party will emerge capable of challenging United Russia’s predominance. Instead, political life will remain structured by the opposition between generalities, more broadly, between the bureaucracy and the people. This means that elites will remain free-floating, and only few will devote their political careers to the patient art of party and institution building.
Social Differentiation of Russian Regions and Cities
The portion of the country’s population that lives in “Russia 1” will inevitably increase, as a result of continued migration into the biggest cities. The only distinction is that the greater Moscow and St. Petersburg areas attract migrants from all over the country, serving as the destination for 60% and 20% of all Russian migration, respectively. Other big cities, on the other hand, mostly draw migrants from their own regions—usually young people seeking higher education. The growing concentration of this active and educated population in the largest cities of the country represents a death sentence for the system of “vertical power.”
Russia’s Population From Now Until 2025
Finding a solution to Russia’s high mortality problem should be one of the government’s top priorities. Despite some successes, the country continues to suffer heavy losses as a result of early mortality. The economic, social, and demographic consequences of these losses are enormous, and, unfortunately, still not fully recognized by Russian society. A reduction in mortality rates is an essential precondition for Russia’s modernization. A country where life expectancy is at the levels last seen in developed countries half a century ago can hardly be expected to close the economic and technological gap.
Trajectory of the Military Reform in Russia
The army, along with the military industrial complex that serves it, is at the center of the unfolding systemic crisis in Russia. But, according to the official rhetoric, the main problems were solved in the 1990s, when the Russian army preserved the country’s sovereignty, because, “frankly speaking, we had no other serious material arguments.” This dubious premise underlies the “need to be strong” stance. The fact that most Russians are ready to accept it is not likely to automatically bring about its realization.
Turkey Inc.: The Making of a Model?
Nora Fisher Onar
Before the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Arab Awakening, the received wisdom was that when it came to Islam, democracy, and secularism, one could have any two but never all three. Similarly, doubts have long been expressed as to whether political and economic liberalism can thrive simultaneously in a Muslim-majority setting. Taken together, it seems that if the purveyors of Turkey Inc. can show that liberal economics goes hand-in-hand with liberal democracy in a country governed by pious Muslims, the Turkish model-in-progress may achieve fruition and offer a timely example for the region.
Alexander Kustarev, Jonathan Mirsky, Martyn Ganin