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What Will 2021 Bring the Russian Regime and Society?

by Tatiana Stanovaya

15 January, 2021

The system is consuming itself, with each part of it trying to survive separately at the expense of its neighbor. In this situation, society is a hostage of the battle for survival, and an expendable component in political experiments.

For Russia, 2020 would have been a pivotal year even without the novel coronavirus pandemic: constitutional reform resulted in a new political regime that functions according to a different logic, has a different kind of relationship with society and the opposition, and reacts in a new way to problems. Much that seemed unbelievable and exceptional last year could soon become the new normal. The main political speculation of the year was that President Vladimir Putin could step down. That didn’t happen, of course, but the gradual and inexorable removal of Putin from the decisionmaking process is undeniable. Putin may rarely be off the nation’s TV screens, but he is to all intents and purposes absent: he comments, criticizes, and boasts of successes, but he himself merely observes and orders proposals to be drawn up.

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