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Tag: Putin

The art of constitutional seduction. The 2020 case of Russia

On July 3rd 2020 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the official publication of the revised version of the Russian constitution, based on the Russian-wide voting on amending the constitution. The motivation of the process was clear – to allow Putin to stay in power almost indefinitely. Yet it also reveals the legal tricks and manipulation Russian authorities have used to make significant changes to the country’s legal order.

Imagine you are a skilled autocrat ruling over a nation for a long time. Unlike your dim, obsolete neighbours, you have successfully developed a personalist regime without any flagrant constitutional violations or manipulations. Even if you ever engaged in a constitutional modification process, you have always been careful and attentive, even to the tiniest technical issues of such an enterprise. No one can ever question the legitimacy of your previous endeavours because you are the master of legal disguise.

September 7, 2020 - Oleksandr Marusiak

A triumphant referendum?

Russian officials and state media outlets have called Russia’s recent vote on constitutional amendments a “triumph”. What does the result tell us about the state of Russian society? How did Russians living abroad vote? According to official data, Russians living in the Baltic states voted in favour of the amendments to the constitution at a higher rate to Russians living in Russia or Russians living in other EU countries. Why was this?

On July 1st Russia’s nationwide voting on constitutional amendments – designed primarily to give the current Russian president, Vladimir Putin the opportunity to remain in power until 2036 – came to an end. According to Russia’s Central Electoral Commission, more than 57.7 million voters, or 77.92 per cent of those who voted, supported the amendments, while 15.7 million, or 21.27 per cent, voted against it. The turnout, according to official reports, reached almost 68 per cent.

September 7, 2020 - Olga Irisova

Gone with the virus. How the pandemic makes Russian strategy evanescent

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in three major blows to the Kremlin’s international strategy, thus making it adjust to much less favourable circumstances than when Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea and disrupted relations with the West.

July 7, 2020 - Andrey Makarychev

An investigation into Putin’s useful idiot

A review of Crime in Progress. The Secret History of the Trump-Russia Investigation. By Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch. Publisher: Allen Lane, London, 2019.

April 6, 2020 - Taras Kuzio

Talk Eastern Europe Episode 30: A Russian Hangover. Interview with Shaun Walker

In this episode Adam and Maciek catch up with Shaun Walker – a journalist, writer and Guardian correspondent for Central and Eastern Europe.

February 1, 2020 - Adam Reichardt Maciej Makulski

Putin’s ideas for 2024

Vladimir Putin’s push for constitutional changes is likely a way to stay in power. But will they be enough to convince the society which is growing more discontent with the current stagnation?

January 31, 2020 - Agnieszka Legucka

You can run, but can you hide?

A review of The Compatriots. The Brutal and Chaotic History of Russia's Exiles, Émigrés, and Agents Abroad. By: Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan. Publisher: Public Affairs, New York, 2019.

January 27, 2020 - Luke Harding

Contemporary Russia’s power vertical: Clans controlled by the Kremlin

Despite the fall of communism nearly three decades ago, Russian leaders have continued to pursue illiberalism and authoritarianism – especially Vladimir Putin, whose popularity remains high even as he plunders the country’s financial assets. Putin’s ability to strengthen and manipulate the power vertical and its accompanying clan system are crucial to his control of Russia as a whole.

Contemporary Russian politics, starting in 1990 when the country declared its sovereignty and de-facto independence from the Soviet Union, has experienced all types of regime shifts. The newly post-Soviet Russia began as a fragile democracy, albeit one that leaned more towards illiberalism than freedom and continued to endure hard authoritarian governance. Over the years it travelled down the path of greater totalitarianism.

May 2, 2019 - Vakhtang Maisaia

Orbán’s dangerously familiar discourse

Hungarian rhetoric vis-à-vis its minorities throughout Central and Eastern Europe find more and more similarities with Russian policy toward its own Russian (speaking) minorities. Meanwhile, Hungary’s concept of “Christian Democracy” finds common roots with the Russian concept of “sovereign democracy”.

Viktor Orbán’s political power relies on his ability to build a philosophical skeleton for Fidesz’s domestic and foreign policies. In that sense, Orbán follows Vladimir Putin’s path in building an unstable system for his own reign’s sustainability: making Christianity the structure of the political and social system and elevating themselves as guarantors of self-declared Christian values while scapegoating the decadent West which has humiliated Hungary’s or Russia’s greatness.

March 4, 2019 - John Mastadar

Corruption is Russia’s biggest export

An interview with Ilya Zaslavskiy, head of research at the Free Russia Foundation. Interviewer: Olena Babakova

OLENA BABAKOVA: After the United States introduced new sanctions against Russian oligarchs in April this year, the value of their companies collapsed and the exchange rates of the rouble sky rocketed. The West showed, once again, that it can still exert pressure on Russia. Is this a long-term problem for the Russian economy or has it already learnt how to adapt to such restrictions?

ILYA ZASLAVSKIY: I think we should examine whether the Kremlin and its business circles adapted to the western sanctions or whether the economy as a whole adapted. The regime found ways to continue with its current policies and its various confidants that have been targeted still have lots of money in offshore accounts, so they only feel threatened but not bitten. Even more importantly, they feel confident. However, if we talk about the quality of life and wealth of ordinary Russians, standards have obviously dropped. Some estimates say it has fallen by as much as a third. However this is still better than the situation in the 1990s.

September 1, 2018 - Ilya Zaslavskiy Olena Babakova

Is Russia transferring its political institutions abroad?

The leaders of Russia and Hungary might have very different backgrounds, but their approach to the judiciary and media is quite similar.

July 25, 2018 - István Pósfai Kirill Shamiev

Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder

A review of Amy Knight's book on the circumstantial evidence linking the Kremlin to a number of high profile murders.

June 6, 2018 - Artem Patalakh

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