In the MEDIA

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.

All articles published by Tatiana Stanovaya and R.Politik’s other editors and analysts will be included here. 

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.
top_logo_news RFE
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”.


Commentary for The Moscow Times

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.


Commentary for The Times

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%.


Commentary for RFI

Coronavirus, l’adversaire qui désarme Vladimir Poutine

Publié le : Modifié le :

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 ».


Commentary for TIME

Where’s Putin? Russia’s President Stays Out of Sight as Coronavirus Hits Economy

APRIL 24, 2020 1:40 PM EDT

“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.


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