Political analysts from Russia and abroad discuss the outlook for Russia ten years down the road and endeavor to outline the potential for development in social, economic, and political life.
In order for Russia’s university education system to promote the country’s development and its stature among leading world powers, there must be a modernizing shift in the mindset of the Russian people.
With the creation of independent associations, both virtual and real, for parents to find help and support without recourse to the state, the development of new practices of parenthood is quietly helping to undermine statist paternalism.
The global economic crisis has thus far had little effect on the existing political system in Russia, but the serious discussion it has provoked suggests that change may be inevitable.
In the post-socialist countries of Europe, governments have been employing historical narratives to achieve political ends. In central and eastern Europe, history is abused to create anti-Russian nationalism, while in Russia, defense of the official version of Soviet history means turning a blind eye to the crimes of the communist regime.
The current American military campaign in Afghanistan enjoys broad international support, including from Russia. Yet despite this support, international experts remain focused on the likelihood of failure in Afghanistan rather than potential pathways for peaceful development.
Russia’s political stability depends on civic and social fragmentation, which isolates groups from one another and, although not overtly political, has distinct political ramifications.
The economic crisis has brought to light the problems that arise from the concentration of power and deterioration of institutions in Russia. As resources diminish, the mechanisms of the state are increasingly becoming exhausted, demonstrating the need for political reform.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has failed to improve the lives of ordinary Iranians and faces popular dissatisfaction with Iran’s economic problems. With his term due to end in June 2009, the opposition has an opening with the voters.
While grassroots activism is increasing in Russia, it is entirely divorced from politics. Russian citizens do not seem to view their political rights as a tool for resolving social problems, and there seems to be little outcry at the gradual erosion of these rights.
Ruling elites in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere use elections to maintain the appearance of democracy, while working behind the scenes to neutralize their political opponents in an attempt to prevent any challenge to their political monopoly.
The hegemonic status of the United States is waning, as the international system transitions from unipolar to multipolar. However, this shift in the global balance of power provides no guarantees of a more peaceful new world order.
Russia's new head of state will inherit a number of serious problems that have accumulated while vast intellectual, financial, and administrative resources were invested in the construction of the Russian political system.
Having no experience in free intellectual discourse on the development of national identity, Russia now faces the challenge of developing a civic nation, based on the active participation of citizens with general confidence in their nation's political institutions.
Relations between Russia and the United States have increasingly been limited to statements of mutual discontent. Yet this tension is entirely surmountable, and a consolidated relationship could do much to help solve pressing global dilemmas.
Recent political developments in Russia have led to increased centralization of power, to the detriment of the political influence of local governments.
In recent years, rapid change has come to the unrecognized and contested states in the territory of the former Soviet Union, such as Kosovo, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. These changes are the result of significant shifts in the foreign policy of Russia and other former Soviet states.
Although Russian television is technologically advanced and professionally managed, Soviet discourse still influences both news coverage and nonpolitical entertainment programming.
Russia's leadership has been strengthened by its plentiful oil and gas resources, allowing it to exercise significant political power both domestically and abroad.
The Russian state maintains control over political and public life, but independent forces in Russian society may, with time, lay the foundation for a new Russian civil society.