NY Dispatches: Regional constitutional courts

This week the State Duma voted to approve the liquidation of regional constitutional courts. According to the law, which implements this year’s constitutional reform, regional constitutional courts will be abolished by 2023. They may be replaced by “constitutional councils” functioning along regional assemblies, but presently it is unclear what powers, if any, these will have. But why do these courts matter, and why does the Kremlin want to get rid of them? An explainer.

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NY Dispatches: Regions and bankruptcy

One of the news that generated significant interest over the past week was the “bankruptcy” of Ingushetia, a North Caucasian region. But Ingushetia going “bankrupt” is not exactly what happened. What Ingushetia is going through is close to bankruptcy, but not exactly that. A short explainer.

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In search of a Kalmyk relief

The second wave of the pandemic is hitting Russia’s regions harder than the first and most regions are ill-equipped to deal with it. In some, political squabbles impede effective policymaking; these conflicts also highlight why the Kremlin’s model of governing the regions falls short of expectations in crises.   

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NY Dispatches: Putin’s bonuses

Doctors and nurses have taken to the streets across Russia to demand the payment of pandemic-related bonuses promised by Vladimir Putin in April but only partially paid out. According to the government, medical staff has no reason to protest, and some cities have tried to prevent the demonstrations quoting restrictive measures related to the pandemic. The protests may seem small, but they highlight a deeper problem with executive power in Russia.

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The voice of the regions

Regional protests have become a fixture in Russian politics in recent years. This is partly due to worsening social and economic conditions as well as the emergence of well-organised and resilient grassroots networks in several regions. They also highlight four underlying issues that the Kremlin has not been able to solve or wish away. And they risk upsetting some of the basic understandings, upon which the whole political system is built.

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NY Dispatches: three single days of voting

Russia held gubernatorial, regional legislative and municipal elections on Sunday, 13 September. While traditionally the day was called a “single day of voting”, it actually took place over three days, in line with amendments to electoral legislation adopted earlier this year. I have analyzed the significance of these elections for the Institute of Modern Russia last week. The following is a short list of the lessons learned now that preliminary results have been announced.

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NY Dispatches: Navalny’s poisoning

German doctors treating Alexey Navalny in Berlin confirmed today that Russia’s most prominent opposition politician was most likely poisoned. As of Monday, 24 August it seems that Navalny might survive the attack, but little is known about his condition (unless you get your news from the “Bild” tabloid, which you should not). Yet, there are a couple of lessons and conclusions that we can draw from the attempt on his life.

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