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.

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