Russians are engaging in increasingly confrontational forms of protest, choosing to voice their discontent with the regime at unauthorized rallies rather than at state-sanctioned gatherings. As arrests and restrictions on civil liberties mount in response to the rallies, the authorities will seem ever more hostile and unjust.
The State Duma has joined the presidential administration as the second source of power in Russian domestic policymaking, and the tension between the two is threatening to open up a rift in Putin’s power vertical.
In 2014, ordinary people in Russia were called upon to be active and create history. But you can’t be active on the geopolitical stage while remaining passive in domestic politics. People are starting to apply their newly found political activity to the agenda at home.
Russia has never received so much attention from the West, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons. Overshadowed by allegations of interference in Western democracies, is the story of Russia’s own social and political awakening.
Twenty-five years after the end of the Soviet Union, Moscow is certainly ready to overcome its old Soviet image. That may have been on the authorities’ minds when they drew up the redevelopment plan. But the only way the authorities could think of redesigning the urban landscape was through Soviet tactics.
In the absence of a real political contest, Russia’s 2018 presidential election will be more or less a referendum on public confidence in Putin.
Even as Russia officially proclaims moral conservatism, the official tactic of nominating a wheelchair-bound singer for the Eurovision Song Contest suggests a different approach. A political gambit reflects a wider trend. Much of Russian society is becoming more tolerant of difference and more Europeanized than it has been for a century.
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.
A localized civil society movement in Moscow is pushing for the government to curb unfair urban development practices and give residents greater autonomy over their own neighborhoods.
Ten years after Boris Yeltsin’s death, we’re only beginning to grapple with the legacy of his transformative presidency.