Russian officialdom has lately developed an enormous appetite—bordering on patriotic hysteria—for historical politics.
The near-identical results of gubernatorial runners-up Mikhail Amosov and Nadezhda Tikhonova show once again that people were following the tactic of voting for anyone except acting governor Alexander Beglov, and that left with two other options, voters simply tossed a coin. For the first time in the city’s history, we have seen clearly expressed protest voting.
The outcome of Russia’s latest regional elections, especially in Moscow and Khabarovsk, throws into question plans to reduce the proportion of seats allocated by party list voting in favor of more single-mandate districts ahead of elections to the State Duma in 2021. It turns out that when faced with a strong protest mood like in Khabarovsk, or heavily mobilized protests amid a low turnout like in Moscow, these maneuvers don’t help.
A TV star-turned-politician is as good a new model as any for candidates for State Duma elections: someone who criticizes everyone, but then on fundamental issues will always willingly support the authorities. The Kremlin is currently studying the potential of this kind of candidate. The global trend of populists winning; actors, singers and other celebrities turning their hand to politics; and the departure of traditional parties are all things Russia has already seen, and not so long ago either. It would not be hard to return to that time.
Today it makes sense to examine Putin’s legacy in practical regard, through the prism of certain questions: What is of abiding importance and should be preserved for the next generation of Russian leaders? What needs to be changed and developed? What should be best avoided in the future?
A new experiment in the use of artificial intelligence will be monopolized by the Kremlin. It could have major political consequences in Russia.
While many in the West wring their hands over the plight of the postwar rules-based international order, it is often assumed that Russia would welcome a new era of unilateralism and great-power politics. But in reality, the Russian leadership's perspective on multilateralism is more complicated than that.
Russia’s government agencies are so busy competing with one another and presenting themselves in a good light to the Kremlin that they are failing to deal with the new street protests.
In recent months, Russia has launched a new attack on web-based companies. Often, these measures are presented as efforts to combat terrorism. However, behind them lies a union of bureaucrats and security agents, the business aspirations of state capitalists, and the Russian authorities’ desire to control the internet.
By agreeing to the brutal suppression of peaceful protests about Moscow city elections, Mayor Sobyanin has submitted to collective responsibility. For Putin and the Kremlin, it is impermissible that elections can be lost. This is a message for Russia’s next parliamentary and presidential polls.