Andrei Kolesnikov, in his review of books by Shaun Walker, Masha Gessen, and historian Serhii Plokhy, analyzes the authors’ view on the phenomenon of the influence of the past on the present and future of Russia.
United Russia’s new leader, Andrei Turchak, is asserting the independence of the pro-presidential party as a distinct force in domestic politics. As the ruling regime’s power vertical begins to fragment, United Russia will now seek to take credit for its own contribution to Vladimir Putin’s victory.
Most Russian citizens do not express a strong desire for sweeping change and do not have in mind a specific road map for reforms. And yet most Russians understand that the country cannot move forward, or even stay in place, without reforms.
Whatever changes 2018 and 2024 bring to Russia’s leadership, the broader political system will become increasingly depersonalized, making it—rather than the president—the source of stability.
The Communist Party’s new presidential candidate is far from a dull apparatchik. He’s a populist whose criticism of the authorities can appeal to different electoral groups. There has always been a demand for populism in Russia. If Pavel Grudinin can run an effective campaign—and his previous political experience suggests he can—it could lead to serious changes in the Russian political landscape.
Most of Navalny’s economic proposals are seriously concerning and evocative of left-wing populist slogans. The policy platform contains outright errors, but its greatest problem is that it attacks all vocal parts of society in favor of a mythical “people.” Attracting voters with such a platform will prove to be difficult.
Russians do not express an overwhelming desire for change. Few understand how it could occur in their country. But most recognize that Russia cannot move forward without reform.
Arseny Roginsky, founder of Memorial, was the embodiment of freedom. While Soviet authorities considered him to be anti-Soviet, he could best be described as, simply, not Soviet at all. Roginsky was a patriot of his country; his main goal being the protection of Russian history from the state’s attempts to obliterate its crimes.
The president’s speech at the Bishops’ Council will only exacerbate disagreements over the future of the Russian Orthodox Church between—and among—religious and secular Russians. The secular community feels he is drifting toward the church, while many in the religious community believe he is trying to establish government control over church activities.
In Russia, there is no particularly tense strife between supporters and opponents of the hundred-year-old revolution. But there is competition among the ruling political establishment and the oppositional intelligentsia on the topic of political repression. The regime is fighting back against the opposition’s monopoly on the right to represent the victims and name the state as the executioners’ successor.