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 Carnegie Moscow Center

Repression Rollback: First Moscow Protesters See Charges Dropped

After two months of trial and error in dealing with the Moscow protests, it looks like the Russian authorities have started to define their red lines. As before, the slightest physical resistance to the authorities is met with harsh punishment, but the siloviki have stopped short of openly fabricating cases: not for the sake of society, but because this concerns the president too. The level of repression is abating, together with the displeasure of the civilian section of the elite closest to the president, which had been alarmed by the siloviki’s attempts to alter the status quo.

Russia’s Investigative Committee this week dropped rioting charges against five people who had taken part in protests over opposition candidates being barred from running in upcoming elections to the Moscow city parliament. It also asked for two more suspects to be released from pretrial detention centers and put under house arrest instead. On the same day, courts started handing down prison sentences to people convicted of using violence against law enforcement officers during the protests. It seems that the crisis that started to form in mid-August in the authorities’ repressive reaction to the protests is taking shape. Mass prosecutions like those seen following protests on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square in 2012 are quickly falling apart, but as before, the authorities are not prepared to forgive the use of violence against the security services.


Commentary for The Moscow Times

As Discontent Simmers, Russia’s Ruling Party Dons Camouflage in Countrywide Elections

Candidates from the ruling United Russia party are running as independents or under different banners on Sept. 8.

While the pension overhaul sent Putin’s ratings tumbling, it was his party that took the biggest hit.

“All official institutions have seen a drop in ratings, but United Russia was hit the hardest because the Kremlin placed all of the blame for pension reform on the party,” said political scientist Tatiana Stanovaya.

At the heart of the argument is whether to vote for the so-called systemic opposition parties like the Communist Party and the far-right Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, which the authorities use to allow voters to vent frustration, but which in effect do the authorities’ bidding.

But if Navalny manages to convince anti-government voters to take his strategy, Stanovaya believes it could be “dangerous” for the authorities.

“Navalny has understood the vulnerability of the regime and is attacking it head on,” she said. “For liberals, it’ll be a question of what price they are willing to pay.”


Commentary for Deutschlandfunk

Opposition unerwünscht

Blutende Demonstranten, mehr als tausend Festnahmen – die Moskauer Sicherheitskräfte sind vor einigen Tagen hart gegen protestierende Bürger vorgegangen. Die haben den Kampf für freie Wahlen nicht aufgegeben. Das Kräftemessen geht weiter.

Nach Ansicht der Politologin Tatiana Stanovaya vom Analyse-Zentrum R.Politik war anfangs offen, ob Kandidaten der Opposition zur Wahl zugelassen werden.
„Das Bürgermeisteramt wollte anfangs, dass ein paar gemäßigte, liberale Oppositionelle teilnehmen. Bei den Leuten aus dem Umfeld Nawalnys allerdings war man im Kreml und im Bürgermeisteramt einer Meinung: Für sie sollte das nicht gelten.“


Commentary for Le Figaro

À Moscou, l’opposition écrasée par les autorités

«Cette affaire pénale est une tentative d’écraser FBK et d’utiliser ce prétexte pour une campagne de propagande visant à montrer à la population que Navalny est lui-même un truand et un voleur», analyse la politologue Tatiana Stanovaya. «La position de Poutine a toujours été que l’emprisonner lui donnera de la popularité et une image de victime. Son opinion a peut-être évolué, d’autant plus que Poutine s’occupe de moins en moins des affaires domestiques, dans lesquelles les structures de sécurité prennent de plus en plus d’initiatives», souligne toutefois la directrice de R. Politik.


Commentary for The Guardian

Kebabs and rock music: Moscow’s ruse for luring the young away from politics

‘Spoiler’ festivals are being held in Russia to try to keep young protesters off the streets

But the so-called “spoiler festivals” are also indicative of a government unlikely to make concessions and focused instead on tactics to win over young people and those sceptical of the protests.

“It is an attempt to distract people with a festival, a positive spectacle,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, a political scientist. “The opposition may believe it is stupid, and of course there were not 300,000 people last week, but there are many people in Moscow who are neutral or negative to the protests. This is an appeal to them.” …

The tactic of alternative programming was used during the 2011-12 protests, when the government set up pro-Putin rallies, Stanovaya noted. Attendance could top 150,000 at those events, exceeding the size of anti-Putin protests, although some supporters were bussed in.

But in the new Moscow, pro-Putin rallies are unlikely to return. Instead, Kremlin figures have sought to challenge young political energies toward social activism and the opposition protest this weekend will be recognised by the city. But, late in negotiations, the city told opposition members they would not be allowed to have music during the event.

“They don’t want it to be a celebration,” Stanovaya said. The organisers have said they will have music anyway.


Commentary for La Croix

À Moscou, les manifestants bravent la pluie et la peur

L’opposition qui appelait pour la quatrième semaine consécutive à défiler contre l’interdiction de participer aux élections municipales de la ville de Moscou a rassemblé entre 20 000 et 50 000 personnes malgré la pluie et la peur des arrestations lors d’une manifestation autorisée.

« Le régime n’est pas disposé à engager un dialogue avec l’opposition et est incapable de le faire, prévient la politologue Tatiana Stanovaya, dans une analyse publiée par la fondation Carnegie. Face à une telle rigidité, les manifestations continueront de peser sur le système politique du pays. Tant que les membres de l’administration présidentielle chargés de la gestion de la politique intérieure ne trouveront pas les instruments permettant de désamorcer la situation, la réponse sera menée par des hommes en uniforme. »


Commentary for the Carnegie Moscow Center

Protests Expose Russia’s Regime Rivalry

The government clearly underestimates the nature of the crisis simply because it contradicts Putin’s worldview: that he continues to enjoy broad popular support and there is a “responsible” opposition which is represented in parliament, plays by the rules, and doesn’t rock the boat. As per Putin, the other opposition simply doesn’t exist, and the protesters are just a bunch of thugs. No one tells the president that the situation has drastically changed since his triumphant election victory in the spring of 2018, and that the country has entered a new phase.


Commentary for The Moscow Times

The Kremlin Sees Signs of Foreign Interference All Around

One lawmaker pointed to the dual citizenship of a rapper who performed at a Moscow vote protest as evidence of meddling.

As the protests have ballooned over the past few weeks, the authorities have put the blame for the dissatisfaction at the feet of foreign agents. Those citing interference include officials in the upper reaches of the Russian government, said political scientist Tatiana Stanovaya.

“The authorities have no doubts about this version of events,” she said. “Putin believes this.”  …

“If in years past officials talked about foreign interference mostly in the context of an information campaign or propaganda, now it’s become real politics,” said Stanovaya. “And it has also steadily moved from the margins into the mainstream.”

“The battle against foreign interference can turn into a big, multi-faceted campaign with many different players who will fight against meddling because they have received signals from the top that this is what they should be doing,” she added.


Commentary for The Independent

Vladimir the Great: How 20 years of Putin has shaped Russia and the world

Oliver Carroll looks at the two decades of scandals, wars and crises that have both challenged and defined Putin’s rule, and his Russia

“Putin saw a need to consolidate the masses around him,” says Tatyana Stanovaya, a non-resident fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Centre.

“So he sought a new engagement with what he saw as the democratic majority. This was the first time we began to hear discussions about the spiritual underpinnings of the nation, family values, and a patriotic wave that led to Crimea.” …

“Over his leadership, Putin became much more relaxed in the way he treated killing operations,” says Carnegie’s Tatyana Stanovaya. “Before it was always the dark side of power, a matter left unspoken. Now the Kremlin is less reserved about it. Death has become a much more overt instrument.”


Op-ed, The Moscow Times

How the Russian State Is Losing Its Instruments of Governance

No one in the Kremlin is currently working on long-term political strategy.

It is hardly a secret that the domestic policy “curators” were extremely unhappy with Sergey Sobyanin, who has been held entirely responsible for this summer’s political crisis in Moscow. Yet what would Sergey Kiriyenko’s vision look like, and what tactics would the administration be using if Moscow had not been entrusted to Sobyanin?

On the other hand, observers are constantly talking about a rebellion by the so-called “siloviki”— officials with ties to law enforcement. The exit of the civilian “curators’ left a vacuum, which has been eagerly filled by actors from the state security services.

According to unverified accounts, in late July Putin held a meeting at which security service heavyweights Nikolai Patrushev and Alexander Bortnikov “explained” to Putin that the Moscow protests were an attempt to export a foreign-led “color revolution” to Russia. The management of the Presidential Administration got into trouble with Putin and several mid-level staffers from the foreign policy bloc were sacked.


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