R.Politik’s founder, Tatiana Stanovaya, is regularly quoted by major Russian and international media outlets. She is available for commentary in Russian and English.
January 23, 2020
By Tatiana Stanovaya
The Russian government has never been as nonpolitical as it is today. The new cabinet appointed by President Vladimir Putin this week is purely technocratic. It seems that eighteen months after he began his fourth presidential term, Putin has finally put in place the government he will need to help him navigate the handover of power to a successor.
En costume trois pièces, la ciga rette aux lèvres ou le visage rogue, il est le seul à figurer sur les teeshirts en vogue dans les boutiques de souvenirs de Moscou, aux côtés de Poutine et du cosmonaute Youri Gagarine. « Nous sommes tellement habitués à lui, confirme Tatiana Stanovaya, analyste politique du Centre Carnegie Russie et fondatrice du site R.Politik. Depuis des années, il met en musique la ligne déve loppée par Poutine, il fait le job, il sert l’Etat ou Poutine, sans peutêtre faire de différence. Et, en même temps, confronté à la vague d’incompréhension de l’Occident, il est devenu, au fil du temps, plus émotionnel. »
Depuis l’intervention militaire russe en Syrie, les diplomates n’ont cessé de perdre du terrain au profit des siloviki (membres de l’appareil sécuritaire et militaire), jusqu’à transformer le MID «en service de presse du Kremlin », selon Mme Stanovaya. « Les ques tions diplomatiques, militaires et sécuritaires, estime la politologue, sont désormais étroite ment liées et ont fragilisé le ministère des affaires étrangères. Les “diplos” ont perdu l’initiative. »
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En théorie, le chef du Kremlin achèvera son quatrième et dernier mandat en 2024, puisque la Constitution de 1993 lui interdit de se présenter une cinquième fois. Les commentateurs ne sont pas tous d’accord en revanche sur les intentions du président russe. Tour d’horizon des différentes pistes évoquées.
Scénario 1 : la révision constitutionnelle n’est pas considérée comme rétroactive. Elle remet les compteurs à zéro et permet donc à Vladimir Poutine de se présenter de nouveau ! Scénario évoqué par plusieurs juristes qui le considèrent possible mais tout de même peu probable.
Scénario 2 : Vladimir Poutine prend la tête du Conseil d’État, institution actuellement « en veilleuse » mais qui devrait sortir renforcée de la réforme constitutionnelle. L’amendement proposé par Vladimir Poutine en renforce les attributions, sans préciser qui en prendra la direction. Pour de nombreux observateurs, l’actuel président russe se réserve ainsi la possibilité de continuer à jouer un rôle par ce biais-là. « Peu importe la forme que cela prendra ! Je pense qu’il y aura une sorte de gouvernance bicéphale, analyse Tatiana Stanovaya, du centre de réflexion R.Politik. « Une “tandemocratie” qui permettra à Vladimir Poutine non pas de rester à la tête du pays, mais de rester au pouvoir. »L’option ressemble à s’y méprendre à celle choisie par Noursoultan Nazarbaïev pour rester au pouvoir au Kazakhstan. « Sauf que Nazarbaïev a mené une réforme de la Constitution bien plus radicale qu’en Russie, nuance la politologue. En Russie, si Vladimir Poutine dirige le Conseil d’État, je pense qu’il n’aura pas de pouvoirs aussi étendus que ceux conservés par Nazarbaïev dans son pays. »
Many young Russians told the FT that examples of the state impinging on their lives had been the trigger for them to take a stand against Putin’s administration. They seemed willing to tolerate elite corruption or autocracy but raged at transgressions whose victims they could empathise with, or which directly affected their own lives. “The young generation in Russia are largely disinterested in politics and bored by the system and what it represents,” says Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of R.Politik, a Russia-focused political analysis firm. “But they are also sensitive to any moves the state makes towards their personal space. If you try to, say, censor their social media experience, then they will get upset and engage.”
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January 22 2020, 10:31 AM January 23 2020, 11:12 PM
Putin’s ploy to keep control indefinitely was the deepest of secrets. Top officials were in the dark; even Medvedev was unaware of his looming ouster 72 hours before. It reflects the Kremlin boss’s conviction that he has a unique mission to guide Russia and cannot trust anyone else. A fitness fanatic who eschews alcohol, Putin intends to pull the strings until his dying day, even after he quits an
By proposing to empower a toothless advisory body, President Vladimir V. Putin set off new speculation about his long-term plans.
Tatiana Stanovaya, a political analyst with the Moscow Carnegie Center, wrote that the advantage of the State Council for Mr. Putin is that its work “brings together all the main institutions of power: the presidential administration, the government, ministers and governors, the leadership of the ruling United Russia party and even the heads of state corporations and banks.”
But how much power it will have, she added, is “one of the biggest questions arising from Putin’s plans for constitutional reform. Most probably, its authority will be directly proportionate to Putin’s concern that the next president could break free of his control.”
Despite the shadow cast by election interference, many leading Russians—even Putin—would like to get back to normal dealings.
Primarily, that means trying to cut a strategic deal with the White House on a host of issues, including arms control and respecting spheres of influences, that could rewrite the status quo enshrined after the end of the Cold War.
“[The Kremlin] would like that everything would finish as fast as possible and that Trump could be more free from all this pressure he has inside of the country,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, the founder of the political consultancy R.Politik and a scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “Moscow wants to profit from Trump and engage with him, but they can’t because he is too dependent on what’s going on with internal U.S. politics.”
To many Russians, such rhetoric only promises more of the same. “Russia wants to work together with the United States, but on its terms,” Stanovaya said. “The Kremlin knows that [the] American establishment sees it as a threat that should be deterred and contained, so it’s looking for openings to counter that mainstream view.”
Russian leader calls for overhaul that could empower him after he exits presidency in 2024
While Mr. Putin has made decisions about defense and foreign policy, Mr. Medvedev has been responsible for domestic and economic policy.
“Medvedev had become quite toxic and unpopular for Russian people,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of R.Politik, a political analysis firm.
As Mr. Putin embarks on a potential transition from the presidency, he will need a figure who he can trust, she said.
“This is an unexpected divorce between Putin and Medvedev,” Ms. Stanovaya said. “Putin is looking for somebody who can help implement his constitutional reform, through which he will want to control his future successor. And it appears Medvedev is not that person.”
The entire Russian government has resigned as Putin charts his country’s political future—one that will certainly still include a leading role for him.
Putin later nominated Mikhail Mishustin, a 53-year-old technocrat who heads the Federal Tax Service and is best known for boosting tax collections and cutting graft, as Medvedev’s successor. Mishustin is a low-profile choice not seen as a power player in Moscow, making his prospects of transitioning into a major political force unlikely.
“Russia’s political transition has arrived ahead of schedule,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, the founder of the political consultancy R.Politik and a scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “Putin is trying to make his transition more comfortable for himself, and getting rid of Medvedev, who was toxic for both elites and the people, is necessary.”
“Putin will stay inside the system and looks to be planning to stay engaged in strategic policymaking, but he also seems to be setting up a scenario where his potential successor can realize their own agenda,” Stanovaya said. “[Putin] remembers his bad experiences with Medvedev and he knows he will likely have some conflicts with whoever comes next as president. So, he wants to have mechanisms to manage those disagreements as he sets up his slow transition.”