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After Momentous 2020, Russia’s Putin Enters New Year as Powerful as Ever

Kremlin leader takes action to cement his rule, repel challenges and spread Russia’s influence in moves that signal what’s likely to come next year

The adoption in July of changes to the nation’s 1990s-era constitution marked a pivotal moment for the Russian leader. It reflects a belief in the Kremlin that Mr. Putin enjoys popular support for an extension of his power, despite polls showing an erosion of enthusiasm for his leadership, said Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of R.Politik, an independent political analysis firm. “He could finally realize his dream to create a real Putin regime with his own constitution and system,” she said.

“What I see is that the regime has lost any ability to compromise, to tolerate any critics, and it has lost the ability to deal with any political risks in a peaceful manner,” Ms. Stanovaya said. “The only way it knows how to behave is to use repression.” In the coming year, the Kremlin could further cow Russia’s systemic opposition, or opposition groups and political parties tolerated by the government. Meanwhile, opposition groups such as the one Mr. Navalny leads will be suppressed—or possibly destroyed, analysts say.

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