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.
Four Weeks Into Russia’s Economic Quarantine, Confusion Reigns
Putin announced a “non-working week” at the end of March. Anger and confusion are growing, as businesses and citizens still try to figure out what that means.
Political scientist Tatiana Stanovaya, says the confusion comes from the top.
“The main problem with the coronavirus situation in Russia is the complete failure of information policy … The government continues to make one big mistake: publicly underestimating the critical nature of the situation and staying silent about the most pressing problems,” she told The Moscow Times.
Putin himself has “belittled the scale of the crisis” and struck a tone which is “radically different from the mood of those who have lost their income,” she added, pointing to his recent video address to mark Orthodox Easter.
Coronavirus crisis rains on Putin’s Victory Day parade, and trust ratings continue to slide
The Russian leader is struggling to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic and a collapse in the price of oil
Marc Bennetts, Moscow
A national plebiscite due to be held on April 22 to vote on extending Putin’s term has been postponed. And in place of priceless photo opportunities with world leaders, Putin, 67, is now faced with the perfect storm of a pandemic and a collapse in global prices for oil, the linchpin of the Russian economy.
“These twin challenges represent the biggest shock the Putin regime has ever faced and are likely to feed popular dissatisfaction,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, head of R.Politik, the political analysis firm.
The first rumblings of discontent have already begun to appear. Putin’s approval ratings hit an all-time low of 59% last week, according to an opinion poll by the independent Levada Centre think tank in Moscow. His trust ratings were 35%.
Coronavirus, l’adversaire qui désarme Vladimir Poutine
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Ce 22 avril 2020 devait être jour de vote populaire en Russie. Les citoyens allaient être consultés sur des amendements à la Constitution, votés par la Douma en début d’année, qui devaient, entre autres, permettre à Vladimir Poutine de briguer un cinquième voire un sixième mandat. Mais l’épidémie de coronavirus est venue perturber ses projets. « Il n’avait pas d’autre choix que de reporter la consultation », constate la politologue russe Tatiana Stanovaya, qui dirige le cabinet d’expertise R.Politik. « Organiser un référendum alors qu’il y avait un risque de regain des infections après le vote, ça n’était pas possible. Vladimir Poutine voulait obtenir une belle image, mais le coronavirus gâche tout. Il était donc plus simple de reporter cette consultation et d’attendre des conditions plus favorables. »
« Vladimir Poutine estime que les régions sont différentes les unes des autres, et il a raison : il est logique que les décisions prises tiennent compte des spécificités régionales », note de son côté Tatiana Stanovaya. « Sa tâche est de veiller simplement à ce que toutes les décisions soient prises au bon moment et de faire pression si besoin. Mais on ne peut pas dire qu’il a délégué les pouvoirs aux régions. Il a délégué la responsabilité… sans les pouvoirs. »
La politologue constate que Vladimir Poutine « prend ses distances avec cette crise du coronavirus. Elle ne l’intéresse pas d’un point de vue politique, comme peuvent l’intéresser la politique étrangère, les décisions stratégiques ou la réforme constitutionnelle ».
Where’s Putin? Russia’s President Stays Out of Sight as Coronavirus Hits Economy
“The Kremlin is reluctant to spend more. The general policy has been to hang onto money,” says Tatiana Stanovaya, Founder & CEO of political analysis firm R.Politik.
Many businesses are unable to take advantage of the scheme. Gerasimova’s company, Fitmost, is excluded on the grounds that it is an IT company, which does not fall within the 12 categories of businesses that can get help. “We’re one of many companies that are completely alone in this,” she says. And most of those that have applied have been refused.
At least 900 companies had applied for a total of $81 million (6 billion rubles) in such loans, but only 1.2% of that amount has been granted as of Friday, Bank of Russia Chairman Elvira Nabiullina said during an April 10 press conference.
The government “thinks they can ignore” small and medium businesses – which make up an estimated 42% of the economy – because it does not consider them a “political force”, says Stanovaya. “But the majority of people with decent salaries in the middle class have supported Putin because they want stability. They are the social base of Putin’s regime in some way. After this lockdown, the Kremlin could face a lot of resentment,” she adds.
‘Stop waiting for Putin’: Russian president takes backseat in crisis
Putin is working remotely and mainly focusing on cushioning blow to Russian economy
Analysts have noted that Putin’s approach mirrored some other countries, where local officials are tasked with enforcing tough regulations and the central government delivers economic stimulus. The approach would limit Putin’s exposure to unpopular decisions and preserve his public support.
There was another possibility, wrote Tatiana Stanovaya, a Russian political analyst and head of the R.Politik analysis firm: Putin simply does not see tackling the virus as his job. Unfortunately, she added, the state machinery “has forgotten how to act independently”.
“The president expects efficiency from his subordinates, but they have gotten used to merely implementing decisions made by others, and have now forgotten how to generate their own,” she wrote in a piece published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Coronavirus takes a serious turn in Russia, and Putin no longer radiates confidence
Coronavirus Jeopardizes Putin’s Extravagant Wartime Commemorations
Russian president must decide whether to cancel or postpone an event he has long used to burnish his image
Over the years, Mr. Putin has tried to harness the wave of patriotism connected to the Great Patriotic War, as World War II is commonly known in Russia, to bolster his position, analysts said.
Mr. Putin uses such events “to show that society and the authorities are together and united under common values,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of R.Politik, a political analysis firm, adding that postponing the event would be like pushing back a birthday.
Putin leaves tough coronavirus decisions to regional aides
“Sobyanin is responsible only for Moscow, but it feels like he acts in a parallel reality compared to the federal government,” said Ms Stanovaya. “On one hand, Sobyanin is a deputy head of Mishustin’s co-ordination council, but on the other hand he has autonomy, answers directly to Putin and has a direct link to the president.” “Most of the measures have been proposed by him but surely approved and agreed by Putin,” said Ms Stanovaya. “Sobyanin will not move a finger without Putin’s assent.”
As Russia Braces for Coronavirus, Putin Lets Underlings Take the Heat
The Russian leader hates to deliver bad news and wants to distinguish his rule from the turbulent presidency of Boris N. Yeltsin. So he is leaving it to his minions to announce harsh measures.
Mr. Putin, always wary of associating himself with bad news, last week delivered a surprise television address to the nation, warning that Russia “cannot isolate itself from the threat,” but then announced a weeklong paid vacation for the whole country.
This left the streets of Moscow and other cities filled with people enjoying their time off. The Kremlin later had to clarify that the country was not being given a bonus vacation but was simply being asked to stay at home.
Tatiana Stanovaya, a nonresident scholar at Carnegie Moscow Center, said that Mr. Putin’s public detachment from the health crisis fit into what, since he annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, has been his view that the presidency is not so much a job as a sacred mission.
“This is all connected to his sense of having a personal mission,” she said. “Why should he spend his sacred political capital on a virus?”
Russie: l’inévitable report du référendum
Le président russe a beau assurer que tout va bien et se targuer d’un nombre relativement bas de cas d’infections (à peine 1200 personnes contaminées, sur une population de 146 millions d’habitants !), ces statistiques officielles sous-estiment largement la réalité, estime la politologue russe Tatiana Stanovaya.
Celle-ci ne croit pas que les autorités russes mentent, mais pense plutôt qu’elles ne connaissent pas la réalité sanitaire du pays.
Nous n’avons pas assez de tests diagnostiques et ceux que nous avons ne sont pas assez précis.
Tatiana Stanovaya, politologue russe
En même temps, les élites proches du Kremlin préfèrent ne pas trop exposer la vulnérabilité du pays, et des tensions sur la stratégie à déployer face au virus déchirent la classe politique.
Ainsi Sergueï Sobianine, le maire de Moscou, capitale frappée par l’épidémie, tient un discours beaucoup plus alarmiste. Selon lui, le nombre de contaminations est « significativement plus élevé » que les cas reconnus officiellement.