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.

Commentary for The Moscow Times

As the Coronavirus Contagion Grows in Russia, Putin’s Strongman Image Weakens

With an economic crisis heaving into view, the Russian president “looks like an old, sick wolf.”

Commentary for Financial Times

Coronavirus crisis leaves Russian government rudderless

Prime ministerial stand-in faces task of managing pandemic while getting economy moving again

This week 500,000 workers at construction sites and industrial plants in Moscow will return to work, even as the city’s mayor makes wearing face masks mandatory on public transport and warns that quarantine measures will remain for at least the rest of May. “This is well known as the ‘two hares’ strategy: strengthening quarantine as much as possible and opening all the businesses,” Tatyana Stanovaya, founder of political analysis company R Politik, wrote on the Telegram messaging app. “So everyone who can’t work gets a lock on their door and cameras everywhere, and those who can are sent to the shop floor in spite of the risks.”
Commentary for BuzzFeed.News

The Coronavirus Death Toll In Russia Keeps On Climbing, But Putin’s Had Enough Of It

Vladimir Putin wants his regional governors to take responsibility for handling the coronavirus.

Posted on May 11, 2020

Some experts believe that Monday’s announcement was Putin’s attempt to move away from crisis management, something that isn’t his strong suit. (Just look at his handling of the Kursk submarine disaster.) Tatiana Stanovaya, head of the R.Politik think tank, told BuzzFeed News that his handling of the coronavirus outbreak “didn’t really work” and that he prefers focusing on the economy and getting back to the business of strengthening his hold on power.

Putin has appeared perhaps equally angry at, stumped by, and bored with the coronavirus, Stanovaya and other experts have noted. And he has reasons to be.

Stanovaya said that Putin is presenting the decision to lift the nationwide lockdown as something that “will help people” and the economy.

“In fact, the Kremlin would really like to get rid of the [coronavirus] restrictions in order to restart preparations for the referendum on constitutional amendments,” which will pave the way for Putin to rule until at least 2036, she said. A vote for that was supposed to be held in April, but was suspended.

Meanwhile, Stanovaya said she fears the public health situation is likely to remain “really bad.”

“[Putin] is lifting restrictions at the same time we see the numbers [of coronavirus infections] spiking, and we see contradictory statements from officials. They don’t understand” how much damage they are doing, Stanovaya said of Russia’s leaders.


Commentary for EXPRESS

Putin’s approval rating plummets as Russians lose patience with ‘failing’ coronavirus plan

RUSSIA’S president Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings continue to fall as he is excused of “failing” the country due to his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tatiana Stanovaya wrote in a recent report for the Carnegie Moscow Centre: “Putin’s detached initial response to the spread of the coronavirus outbreak was at least partly a result of his staff’s tendency to sanitise information and to portray events in the most optimistic light possible.

“Putin’s staff reports about its achievements, not problems.”

In the last 24 hours, the country has reported up to 10,899 infections, marking the tenth consecutive day the number has been above 10,000.

Among the infected is Mr Putin’s own spokesman Dmitry Peskov, local media reported.


The Putin Regime Cracks

By Tatiana Stanovaya,

  • MAY 07, 2020

President Vladimir Putin’s clever maneuver to dispense with the Russian constitution’s provisions on presidential terms limits will, in theory, allow him to stay in office until 2036. Yet by rewriting the constitution and reshuffling the government, Putin did far more than throw most of the Russian elite off-balance. Putin’s efforts signal that he is building a new political regime that will be more conservative, more ideological, and more anti-Western in its outlook.

Everything is not going to plan, however. The planned reconfiguration of Russia’s political system has been complicated by the collapse of global oil prices and the unprecedented disruption caused by the coronavirus. The April 22 quasi-referendum to “approve” the constitutional amendments is now on hold while the Kremlin tries to deal with both the virus and a new economic crisis. These twin challenges represent the biggest shock the Putin regime has ever faced and are likely to feed popular dissatisfaction.

This article aims to explain how the Putin regime operates and its growing internal conflicts by classifying five different elite groups. For brevity’s sake, it does not cover specific aspects of the Russia government’s response to the pandemic (this will be the subject of future research). Nor does it examine the public dimensions of Russian politics (for example, parliamentary developments and media activity). The focus is on the inner workings of Russia’s main decisionmakers.


Commentary for Bloomberg

Coronavirus Has Exposed Putin’s Brittle Regime

The Russian president has no challengers, but his failure to handle the Covid-19 and oil price crisis may have long-term implications for his rule.

Significantly, Putin’s personal performance has been underwhelming. His spokesman had to dismiss rumors of a bunker hideaway. Always unwilling to get stuck into the nitty-gritty of governing, he has distanced himself more than usual from a crisis he seems unable to grasp.

He’s delegated responsibility to Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, to a cabinet led by the ailing Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, and to poorly equipped regional leaders. It’s an odd move after years of centralizing power and resources. While the president has returned to the public eye in recent days, he remains distant, notes Tatiana Stanovaya of R.Politik, a Russian political analysis firm. She says he looks like a man who’s grown unused to having to worry about popular support.


Commentary for AFP

Coronavirus deals ‘powerful blow’ to Putin’s grand plans

Issued on:

What was supposed to be a triumphant spring for Putin has become a political letdown, observers say, one that could be difficult for the president to recover from.

“This is the first time in 20 years that Putin is facing a crisis this serious,” said political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya. “This is a new experience for him.”

The timing of the pandemic, hitting just as Putin was unveiling major constitutional reforms, amounts to “a powerful blow to his plans”, she told AFP.

Stanovaya said that after so many years in power Putin has “distanced himself from the people” and lost the ability to empathise with Russians.

If the Kremlin cannot address economic problems, “social irritation will grow, there will be protests,” she warned.


Commentary for The Washington Post

Putin knows how to rule Russia as an autocrat. But he seems on the sidelines amid coronavirus crisis.

By Robyn Dixon 

May 7, 2020
Tatiana Stanovaya of the Carnegie Moscow Center argued that regional bosses have forgotten how to make decisions in a Putin-controlled system, terrified of failure and dismissal. But Putin sees regional control measures like local quarantines as beneath “the presidential agenda.” “He is used to focusing on issues that, as he sees it, determine the country’s future in the global arena, its geopolitical position,” she wrote in a commentary.
Commentary for RadioFreeEurope

Russia’s Energy Czar, Disliked And Feared, Catches Blame As Oil Prices Collapse, Venezuela Deals Crumble

Commentary for The Times

Vladimir Putin faces ‘biggest crisis’ of his 20-year rule

The Russian leader’s approval rating has plunged and a plan to extend his presidency hangs in the balance. Tom Parfitt reports

Tom Parfitt, Moscow; Friday May 01 2020,

Tatiana Stanovaya, a non-resident scholar at Carnegie Moscow Centre, a think tank, believes Mr Putin is facing the biggest crisis of his two decades in power.

Yet the former KGB officer has survived many predicted downfalls and could yet ride out this storm.

Discontent is already tangible and could speed up an “erosion of Putin’s regime” that began about two years ago when he seemed to lose his common touch and began talking to the nation “like an accountant”, Ms Stanovaya said.

Nevertheless, if the pandemic can be contained and cases reach a plateau soon, the Kremlin could hold the constitutional vote in late June and push it through.

Even if the fallout from the pandemic extends into the autumn and protests begin, the vote has a good chance of receiving public approval. The Kremlin has cleverly freighted the key constitutional amendments allowing Mr Putin to stay on with social guarantees such as adjusting pensions and benefits to inflation. Those may seem increasingly attractive as the impact of the virus bites.

If the crisis continued to the end of the year, Ms Stanovaya said, that would be “very bad” for the Kremlin; until spring, “a disaster”.