Current political affairs and long-term trends – including the evolution of Russia’s leadership structure – are studied in depth and in comparative context. The program studies Russia’s political institutions, shifting balances of power between the federal center and the regions, changing public attitudes towards democracy, and theoretical issues of politics, economics, power and business.
Moscow, with its 13 million residents, is Russia’s most progressive city. But its citizens are not homogenous and cohesive. But after the authorities began intruding on their private space, Muscovites started to unite. They are no longer a resource supporting the political regime. The movement to defend private property rights just might give birth to a sense of civic pride.
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 is locked in a battle between official history (the story of the state) and counter-history (the story of civil society and the memories of the people). With the centenary of the October Revolution this year, the clash will move to the center of public life.
“Medvedevgate” will be forgotten quickly, however, an after-effect will remain, if only because this story revealed the political and economic workings of Russia’s current elite. It provided an inside look at how money and luxury serve as the lifeblood animating Russia’s body politic.
It’s completely rational for the elites to avoid change, although it betrays their inability to look beyond the horizon. They are not frightened enough by the current stagnation to initiate changes in the system for their own sake. But what they do fear greatly is losing everything all at once by pulling some crumbling brick out of the system, causing the whole construction to come crashing down.
Putin is creating the environment that can provide him with security and insurance and control the wars with the Kremlin’s inner circle. Russia’s political elites have already received a lot of signals from him: If somebody behaves in a wrong way, he will be either dismissed or accused of corruption.
The 2016 parliamentary campaign isn’t just a test run for the 2018 presidential race. Russia’s political regime is in search of a governing model that will help it sustain the status quo for the foreseeable future.