R.Politik CEO and founder, Tatiana Stanovaya, is regularly quoted by major Russian and international media outlets. She is available for commentary in Russian and English.
Putin’s Coup: Cunning Plan or Improvisation?
By Tatiana Stanovaya,
March 18, 2020
In recent days, one question has divided Russia’s political analysts: did Vladimir Putin plan all along to reset the clock on his presidential terms, enabling him to run again in 2024, or was it an improvised move? Many are convinced that there was no such plan at the outset, and that the decision was made in response to events unfolding. It’s well known that Putin is not so much a strategist as a good tactician who reacts to circumstances swiftly, at times to considerable success.
Keeping His Options Open: Why Putin Decided to Stay On
By Tatiana Stanovaya
March 13, 2020
Putin, a man torn by conflicting impulses, has opted for stability in moving to stay on as president after 2024. In doing so, he surprised the elite and even some in the presidential administration, deceiving those around him—though not the public—with his talk of changes in leadership and overhauling Russia’s political system. His real intentions are impossible to know, but his priority is clear: keeping his options open.
Putin’s Aides Shocked by His Presidential Power PlayBy Evgenia Pismennaya, Henry Meyer, and Ilya Arkhipov
Vladimir Putin’s surprise move to allow himself to remain as president until 2036 caught even many Kremlin insiders off guard, leaving some feeling deceived by his motivation for changing the constitution…
It also reveals difficulties Putin faced in maintaining a careful political balance as rival Kremlin factions began jostling for position ahead of a succession that was still four years away. The move was seen as a way to end growing uncertainty about the president’s ability to keep control and bring restless elites into line, two senior officials said.
“This was one of the most brilliant special operations of Putin’s rule,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, head of R. Politik, a political consultancy. If he had set out his plan in January, “it would have triggered massive protests and given time to derail the referendum,” she said.
Putin’s Bid to Extend Rule Is Approved by Russia’s Parliament
Constitutional changes could make Putin the longest-ruling leader in Russia’s modern history, surpassing Stalin
The amendment passed this week, however, could galvanize the Russian opposition as it provides a clear path for Mr. Putin to remain in power, said Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of political analysis firm R.Politik.
“The opposition received an important reason to question and attack Putin’s reform. All the hopes for change crashed yesterday,” Ms. Stanovaya said. “It will be a challenge for the Kremlin.”
A series of constitutional amendments Mr. Putin recently proposed are also a sign of his increasingly traditionalist, nationalistic policies, observers say. They include a provision effectively banning same-sex marriage and enshrining in the constitution the mention of Russians’ “faith in God.”
Mr. Putin’s rule “becomes more ideological and it fuels more radical, more nationalistic-minded forces, conservatives to push forward their agenda and to tighten the screws,” Ms. Stanovaya said.
Putin once told Russians he didn’t want to be the ‘eternal president.’ Now it appears he does.
Putin in January even recommended stricter presidential term limits and the transfer of more power to parliament.So his apparent shift Tuesday caught Russians off guard. The message now is that Putin could be in the Kremlin until he is in his 80s.
“We were convinced that Putin is going to leave in 2024, and finally we see that we all were wrong,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, a nonresident scholar at Carnegie Moscow Center and the head of R. Politik, a think tank. Now, she said, the constitutional process seems built to avoid being accused of simply appointing himself “the eternal president,” Stanovaya added.
“As we understand it now, there are two Putins,” Stanovaya said. “One Putin dreams about the very far future, where we will have a just and democratic system with a rotation of leaders.
“But if we’re talking about now, present-day Putin thinks about stability, about enemies abroad, crises,” she added. “And for him, it’s not a good moment to begin to live in this illusionary good world where we have a successor.”
Putin approves changes allowing him to stay in power until 2036
Putin, 67, now had more room to maneuver politically, said Tatiana Stanovaya, a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center.
His stance handed him the option to run again in 2024 should he choose to do so and removed political challenges raised by what had been seen as his last term in the Kremlin, she added.
“The successor issue disappears. The issue of Putin as a lame duck disappears,” said Stanovaya.
Opposition activists said they planned to protest against what some called a rewriting of the constitution in the interests of the ruling elite. One group said it had applied for permission to stage a demonstration on March 21.
Russian gaming guru enters politics, but is he playing for the Kremlin?
Observers say it’s also unlikely that any of the new parties will meet the five percent threshold needed to enter parliament.
“The main objective is really to minimise the risk of a decline in the popularity of the ruling United Russia party,” said Tatiana Stanovaya of the R.Politik think tank.
– Ruling party woes –
United Russia is experiencing a slump in support over Russia’s ailing economy, with just 33 percent of voters saying they will cast their ballots for the once-dominant party in upcoming elections, according to state polling agency VTsIOM.
The figures mark a steep decline from 2016, when United Russia won 54 percent of votes in legislative elections.
Another recent entry to politics was Sergei Shnurov, the lead singer of hit rock group Leningrad.
Shnurov joined the Growth Party — founded in 2016 by a Putin ally — last month, taking care to delete old social media comments critical of the president.
This sudden burst of activity, says Stanovaya, is designed by the Kremlin to draw attention from Russia’s difficulties.
“These manoeuvres are not an attempt to talk about the future of the country,” she said, instead describing it as a strategy to “avoid real problems”.
Russie : Vladimir Poutine remet son compteur présidentiel à zéro
Prenant de vitesse l’opposition et les observateurs, le Président a fait voter à la Douma un amendement qui lui permettra de briguer un nouveau mandat en 2024, voire en 2030.
«Mais on s’est tous laissés endormir», regrette la politologue Tatiana Stanovaya, qui avait déniché une déclaration de Poutine datant de 2008 dans laquelle il parlait d’une «réinitialisation» du compteur des mandats, si jamais on enlevait de la Constitution la limitation à deux mandats consécutifs. «A l’époque, j’avais fini par me ranger à l’avis des juristes que j’avais consultés, selon lesquels une telle décision était beaucoup trop explosive, car anticonstitutionnelle, et qu’il n’oserait pas…»
Poutine lui-même a distillé ces dernières semaines de faibles signaux pouvant annoncer un possible départ en parlant d’alternance, de changements… «Et pendant ce temps, le débat sur la réforme constitutionnelle s’est déplacé sur des sujets comme les enfants, Dieu, le Conseil d’Etat, libéré du poids mortifère de la question de savoir si Poutine restait ou non», poursuit Stanovaya.