Forget about revolutions

What does the Kremlin’s low-key approach to the 100th anniversary of Russia’s October Revolution tell us? By itself, not a lot. Things are not going well in Russia, but this should not be enough to make Vladimir Putin afraid of a revolution. However, the president, haunted by the ghosts of tsarism, may feel like he needs to hedge against the risks of next year. He may have found the most suitable surrogate to deliver his message, which is: you don’t want a revolution.

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Skills for the future

The unluckiest bunch of political leaders in Vladimir Putin’s third presidential term are regional governors. Since 2012, their political autonomy shrunk together with their resources, while they have been facing higher expectations from Moscow. Regardless of the relative degradation of their position, however, governors still have a very important role, i.e. ensuring the legitimacy of next year’s presidential election. This requires political savvy that many of the new regional leaders appointed in the past year seem to have. They may turn into a secret political asset in Putin’s upcoming fourth term. 

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When autumn comes, some bloom anew

The September regional and gubernatorial elections will open Russia’s most important and most unpredictable political season for at least six years. Alexei Navalny, the man who is on his way to make next year’s presidential election be about him without being on the ballot, has recently upped his game with a masterful series of investigative videos about corruption in Vladimir Putin’s closest circle. These are logically leading to attacks on Putin himself; but an even more important effect of the videos is that Navalny is gradually changing the perception of corruption, the fuel that Putin’s system runs on. He has gotten far, but he is forced go further and be incalculable. The autumn months will be essential.

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The misgovernors

In Vladimir Putin’s third presidential term, foreign policy replaced improving living standards as a source of legitimacy. The significance of foreign policy and power projection, however, goes well beyond the “Crimean consensus” built around Putin following the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. Russia’s different ways of handling its European near-abroad and the Western Balkans tell scores both about its relationship with the West and the symbol that Vladimir Putin has become. These different approaches are hallmarked by two heavyweights of Russian politics, the informal minders of the two regions, who could not be more different themselves.

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Devenir la Russie

« Jettez vos regards prudents sur Paris » – a averti le poète hongrois Janos Batsanyi ses compatriotes nobles en 1789, et ce week-end, de nouveau, de nombreux regards prudents seront jetés sur Paris. Aujourd’hui, cependant, ce sont les citoyens français qui devraient regarder Budapest avec précaution pour voir où la présidence de Marine Le Pen les conduirait et pour comprendre ce que signifie un leader politique qui est redevable à la Russie.

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Becoming Russia

“Cast your wary eyes on Paris” – thus warned the Hungarian poet Janos Batsanyi his noble compatriots in 1789, and this weekend, once again, many wary eyes will be cast on the French capital. Today, however, it is French citizens who should cast their eyes on Budapest to see where a Le Pen presidency will lead them and what it means when a political leader is indebted to Russia.  

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The tired, the poor and the huddled masses

March was Alexei Navalny’s month. One year before Russia’s next presidential election, protests prompted by a corruption investigation by the opposition candidate into the fortunes of Dmitry Medvedev conquered the streets of Moscow and what is probably even more important, other Russian cities. Four years after his somewhat haphazard mayoral campaign in Moscow, Navalny is turning into a formidable politician on the federal level. Anti-corruption protests are an important part of this, but perhaps even more importantly, Navalny is also tapping into the animosity of regional elites against Moscow.

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