NY Dispatches: The way ahead for Moscow

Thousands of people were arrested in Moscow for participating in protests against the disqualification of opposition candidates in the election to the city council, and later against police brutality, or simply for walking in the vicinity. This has not discouraged Muscovites from pouring out onto the streets again. The protests are not a game-changer yet, but they are shaping public discourse. The reaction of the authorities is regrettable, but it is a logical outcome of the system’s internal incentives – which also make any dialogue between the political elite and the protesters unlikely. 

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NY Dispatches: Russia’s growing Welfare Fund

Russia’s frugal fiscal planning and the recovery of oil prices may land some extra money for the government to spend in the next two years, before the 2021 legislative election. Who gets this money, when and how will say a lot about the changing balance of power within the political elite as well as about Vladimir Putin’s contingency plans. 

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NY Dispatches: Protests in Moscow

Thousands protested in Moscow last week against attempts to disqualify prominent opposition politicians from running for seats in the Moscow City Duma in September. Law enforcement beat up and jailed hundreds of them. The story is not over, but the way the authorities reacted provides useful takeaways on the Kremlin’s strategy regarding Russia’s newest protest movements – or the lack thereof.

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NY Dispatches: The future of United Russia

Falling popularity, surprising electoral upsets, candidates that run as independent for fear of being too closely associated with the party… Russia’s ruling party, United Russia, is going through some tough months. Or make it years? Yet, despite the growing challenges, falling popularity and predictions expecting the party’s demise or revamp, it is most likely that United Russia will remain Russia’s most important party in the foreseeable future.

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NY Dispatches: Russia’s new “war economy”

Russia’s economy has enjoyed subdued growth in recent months. However, a damning audit report and the aftermath of a diplomatic spat reveal major structural problems stemming from the president’s reliance on a confrontational foreign policy. 

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The Kremlin in Kazan

When it comes to the few regional leaders who wield actual power in Russia, most think of Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov or Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin. The president of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov gets fewer mentions. However, beyond the wealth and the distinct cultural traditions of his republic, Minnikhanov’s networking also has a lot to do with his relatively strong position within Russia’s political elite. But what is he going to do with it?

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NY Dispatches: Russia and the Council of Europe

Yesterday the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Europe’s most important human rights institution adopted the De Sutter Report, a text that will allow Russia’s delegation to continue attending the sessions of the assembly and to participate in the election of the organization’s next secretary general. It will also unlock, for the Council of Europe’s budget, several years’ worth of financial contributions that Russia has withheld. The decision was supported not only by the majority of PACE members, but also the organization’s outgoing secretary general as well as the French and the German government and several Russian human rights defenders. It is a terrible decision, which will leave Russian human rights defenders worse off and will inflict serious, potentially irreparable harm on the Council of Europe. Here’s why. 

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