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.
Putin’s attempt to renew his mandate in the July 1 constitutional plebiscite is a challenge to those who surround him and a rejection of Russia’s changing reality. Essentially, he is banning his associates from looking around for a successor and from discussing their own future.
Putin is using the upcoming public vote on changing the constitution to make ordinary people his accomplices in the process of extending his rule and sanctioning the predominance of an ultraconservative ideology.
Russia is rapidly approaching a situation in which the public will lose the right to decide anything once and for all, because the authorities simply have no remaining political will or the resources to persuade the people.
Two key mobilizing events—the vote to change the constitution and the Victory Day parade—were supposed to force Russians to temporarily forget about their low incomes and stagnating GDP. The pandemic meant they had to be postponed. Now—as lockdown measures are lifted—the Kremlin is trying to return to the scenario of rallying around the flag.
Whereas Mikhail Gorbachev granted his people freedom and suffered a crushing personal defeat, Vladimir Putin is doing exactly the opposite. But, in the end, it is Putin's legacy that will suffer, and Gorbachev who will be redeemed.
For President Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership, history—in particular, key events of World War II and the Stalin era—are increasingly a political weapon used to legitimize their rule and mobilize the Russian public. As a result, many Russians are now collectively forgetting historical events that were common knowledge two decades ago.
The fight against the new coronavirus in Russia is being led not by politicians oriented on the public mood, but by managers serving their boss. This is why the authorities’ actions appear first insufficient, then excessive; first belated, then premature.