September 25, 2018

Analytical bulletin #11 (12) 2018

Dear Readers,

We would like to present to you the next issue of the Bulletin #11 (12) 2018 «REALITY OF RUSSIAN POLITICS».

Table of contents and short summary

EVENTS

Regional Elections Held on 9 September

For the Kremlin and the ruling party, the regional elections held in September were the worst in the past 12 years, even with a significant percentage of participants in electoral campaigns being controlled and the systemic opposition agreeing to “shares” posts. Vladimir Putin’s August address to the people with an explanation about the need to raise the retirement age produced almost no positive results. On the whole, United Russia’s scores plummeted by 15-20% throughout the country. Opinion polls show a significant rise in protest potential, a drop in support for Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy and decline in trust of television content, the main instrument for support of a patriotic frame of mind. Vladimir Putin’s personal endorsement no longer guaranties candidates’ victories.

Elections in the Vladimir Oblast and Khabarovsk Krai on 23 September, and also the Pre-electoral Crisis in Khakassia

The Kremlin has de facto lost the elections in all three regions. In Khakassia, the Presidential Administration secured the voluntary departure of the governor despite resistance from influential federal groups. In the Vladimir and Khabarovsk Oblasts, elections were lost to LDPR candidates notwithstanding determined efforts on the part of the incumbents.

Critical Situation regarding the Elections in Primorye

The Primorye crisis is composed of three elements: the inability of the candidate from the ruling party, Tarasenko, to secure the requisite number of votes (actual refusal by the population of Putin’s man), overt falsification of the results the night of the 17th of September, and the necessary invalidation of elections due to the escalating differences among the elite. One of the reasons for the electoral crisis in Primorye was internal conflict, which surfaced to varying degrees between Sergei Kirienko and Andrei Yarin, between the Kremlin and the CEC, between overseers of domestic policy and the Presidential Envoy to the Far East District Yuri Trutnev, and between the former head of EMERCOM and the FSB.

MAIN ACTORS

Viktor Zolotov against Alexei Navalny

Director of Rosgvardia Viktor Zolotov directly addressed Alexei Navalny due to a growing internal discomfort in relation to his position within the system and an increased feeling of vulnerability. Zolotov was unable to transform Rosgvardia into an instrument of strategic influence on state decisions and now finds himself bereft of access to Vladimir Putin. His address may become a catalyst for competition between Rosgvardia and the FSB.

Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov

The interview of Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, who are suspected by the United Kingdom of having poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal, has raised many questions. Contrary to many assumptions, the Kremlin has not tried to convince anyone of the innocence of these citizens. Its goal is to come up with a formal answer that can be used as a public position if Vladimir Putin were to have to answer questions about Boshirov-Petrov at international meetings. Back in 2006-2007, the Kremlin was counting on quietly making an arrangement with London to sweep the Litvinenko case under the rug. In the current situation, there are no such hopes and so the Kremlin has not wasted its energy on tweaking the plausibility of the “explanations.”

PROCESSES

Political consequences of the rise of protest vote in Russia

After the regional elections in September, it is important to look at three main trends in domestic policy: the growing dissatisfaction of the siloviki with the political civilian part of Putin’s entourage; the Kremlin’s reduced capacity to assess the situation realistically in the regions and forecast its development; intensification of discussions of a new political reform. The September elections reveal the end of the former model of governance and a stirring of the “manual opposition.”

Distinguished readers, the next issue of the bulletin will be published on 9 October. 

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