NY Dispatches: Sechin’s moves

Requests of tax breaks, aggressive moves against two business-focused publications and his reappointment to head Rosneft for another five years have led to renewed speculation about Igor Sechin’s position in Russian politics. But perhaps we have seen this before?

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NY Dispatches: How to read Putin’s ratings

Vladimir Putin’s ratings are falling. Unsurprising, say some, given the president’s muted response to the coronavirus pandemic. But the causes run much deeper. It’s citizens’ trust in Putin, not their approval of the president that is failing.

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Vladimir the Cautious

Policies guided by risk-avoidance have allowed Russia to build up significant fiscal reserves before the pandemic hit. But risk-avoidance does seem to serve the country well during the pandemic and it did not neutralize the adverse effects of an overcentralized political system ridden with cronyism, either. Vladimir Putin may prefer to sit this crisis out to avoid making risky choices, but it increasingly looks like he might not have this luxury.

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NY Dispatches: COVID-19 and governors

Having left business owners to their own devices, the Kremlin now wants governors to come up with plans to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. Without more fiscal autonomy this will be a tall order. But high uncertainty means that governors can and probably should take initiatives.

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NY Dispatches: COVID-19 and Russia – part 2

This week, following a warning from Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin, the number of registered COVID-19 cases in Russia has surged as the country stepped up testing. The government now encourages people to stay home and has sought emergency powers. Vladimir Putin, however, is still optimistic – or complacent, depending on how you look at it – and beyond postponing a constitutional plebiscite, refused to call for stricter lockdowns or offer a substantially bigger relief package. It seems that the role Putin created for himself in the past two decades was simply not made for unorthodox crises like this.

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NY Dispatches: Russia and COVID-19

The Russian government is slowly acknowledging the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and takes appropriate steps, all while trying to maintain the semblance of stability and normality. Keep an eye on the policies that will be introduced in the coming weeks. Some of them are likely here to stay.

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NY Dispatches: Putin – president for life?

With today’s constitutional amendment that will set the number of his presidential terms back to zero, Vladimir Putin shocked Russian citizens, Russia-watchers and created even more ambiguity about his post-2024 plans. But this will come at a cost.

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