The standoff between European pragmatists and skeptics on Russia won’t end here. The pragmatists will now face heightened political risk for a long time, both in the Council of Europe and in their own countries. Any actions or even statements by Russia that could directly or indirectly confirm the skeptics’ fears will now unleash a barrage of criticism not only of Moscow, but also of those who allowed the Russian delegation to return to the Parliamentary Assembly.
It’s ironic that a show about narratives, and the way they can turn sour, caused Russia’s own narrative machine to show its fragility.
The society of citizens and its representatives in Russia face a dilemma. One option is to cut a deal with the state and work in its interests and on its terms. The other option is marginalisation, to become outcasts destined to be in constant conflict with the state.
Orthodox Christianity—and Vladimir Putin—are at the center of the country’s newest culture war.
We are unlikely to see any more Federal Protective Service officers as governors following the resignation of Astrakhan’s acting governor, Sergei Morozov. This doesn’t mean that security service officials will no longer hold high-ranking government positions, but they won’t have the special status afforded by proximity to the president. It no longer suits Putin to have regional leaders hinting at their closeness to him as a method of government: now they must do some work for themselves.
Russians, once cowed by the potential consequences of taking to the streets, are increasingly willing to protest over nonpolitical and local issues. Having failed to suppress these protests using force, authorities—federal, regional, and local—have resorted to accommodation, offering token concessions and sometimes even meeting protesters’ demands. But they have mistaken the symbolic reasons for these protests for the real drivers of unrest in Russia. In the meantime, protesters will become further radicalized and may eventually become courageous enough to issue overtly political demands.
When media outlets and their owners are accountable to the political regime instead of to their audiences, they cannot be both professional and manageable.
The confrontations between society and the authorities which are spreading across the country shouldn't be taken lightly.
Military pomp is drowning out a meaningful reflection on the horrors of the war.
The wave of landfill protests sweeping Russia is something new on the country’s political map. Fierce and intransigent, they have become a thorn in the side of the authorities—at least at a local level—and demonstrate a new kind of civic activism: one born out of garbage and demolition waste.