Moscow-During 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin took bold steps to consolidate his power in the country and extend the regime for nearly two decades, which may be the leader next year By then, the Kremlin leaders can suppress the opposition still at home and increase Russia’s influence abroad.
A controversial constitutional amendment passed in the summer allows Mr. Putin to remain in power until 2036. Earlier this month, the Russian President signed legislation to expand immunity from prosecution of the former president and allowed the former Kremlin leader to become a life-long senator of the Russian Parliament. Once they leave the office.
He supports greater restrictions on the Internet, making it more difficult to hold political protests. Last Friday, Russian parliamentarians approved a bill supported by the Kremlin that designated individuals and groups engaged in political activities and receiving funds from abroad as “foreign agents,” subjecting them to greater restrictions.
Analysts said that even if Putin asked the Russians to speculate about his plans at the end of his term in 2024, these actions show that the Kremlin is preparing to defend itself from its forces.
Andrei Kolesnikov, an expert on Russian domestic policy at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said: “Next year, Putin will enter as a cruel and unkind dictator and is ready to isolate Russia to a greater extent.” “His regime The more challenges he faces, the stronger and more’sovereign’ he will be. There is even no sign of symbolic liberalization.”
The changes to the national constitution of the 1990s adopted in July marked a crucial moment for Russian leaders. Tatiana Stanovaya, the founder of the independent political analysis company R. Politik, said this reflects a belief in the Kremlin that Putin has shown his leadership ability despite being polled. The enthusiasm of the people has declined, but it is still supported by the public.
She said: “He can finally realize his dream and create a real Putin regime with his own constitution and system.”
Even if Putin moved power this year, dissidents are still brewing. During a massive protest in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk in July, the arrest of a popular local governor quickly turned into growing dissatisfaction with the decline in income and the low quality of public services, including health care. Increased dissatisfaction because the country has been hit by the coronavirus. Putin’s rule.
According to data from the Russian government, Russia recorded 29,258 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to slightly more than 3 million, making it the world’s fourth-largest case after the United States, India and Brazil.
Mr. Putin waited for the protesters, after which the crowd dispersed. But this anger reflects the differences between the Kremlin and ordinary Russians.
The Kremlin said: “The gap between the Kremlin and society is widening.”
Russia’s most famous opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, tried to use the public’s frustration to investigate allegations of government corruption and excessive behavior, and help organize anti-Kremlin voting strategies in regional elections .
But analysts and intelligence officials said that in August last year, Navalny fell ill from contact with the nerve agent Novichok, described by European doctors. This drug is only accessible to state actors.
Mr. Navani and his supporters believe that the Kremlin planned a failed conspiracy to assassinate him. Moscow denied any involvement. Putin said earlier this month that if Russian intelligence personnel want to kill Navani, “we will get the job done.”
In response, the European Union imposed sanctions on members of Putin’s inner circle. Russia responded in kind.
Ms. Stanovaya said: “What I see is that the regime has lost any compromise, the ability to tolerate any critics, and the ability to deal with any political risks in a peaceful way.” “The only thing it knows is how to behave. The method is to use suppression.”
In the coming year, the Kremlin may further threaten Russia’s so-called systemic opposition, or opposition groups and parties tolerated by the government. Analysts say that at the same time, the opposition and other groups led by Mr. Navalny will be suppressed and may even be destroyed.
The Kremlin has dismissed its attempts to stifle dissent. Putin said in an interview with the National News Service (TASS) in March that the opposition is crucial.
The Russian leader said: “In any country, in a society where there is disagreement with the ruling authority, there will always be and will always have a certain part of society.” “And these people exist very well.”
On this year’s global stage, Putin extended his political lifeline to the troubled President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus. Since the August 9 presidential election was flawed, Putin has faced protests and demanded his resignation. The Russian leader promised to provide military and financial support to his Belarusian counterparts.
Mr. Putin also facilitated in November a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The agreement strengthens the Kremlin’s position as a regional power broker and ensures its influence in the two countries. Russia has established military bases in Armenia and established economic ties with it, but for the first time the peace agreement placed Russian troops in Azerbaijan.
Putin told his National Security Council in August that most former Soviet Union countries “are our allies.” “Our interests match economically and politically in many ways. This is undoubtedly one of our foreign policy priorities.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview that this year’s crisis, as well as Western sanctions and the “continuous unfriendly environment” require Moscow to take decisive action.
He said that the crisis “requires the president to be strong and make quick decisions.” “Of course, in general, we firmly believe that the main task is to maintain stability in all directions [and] This was kept. “
Russia has reached an agreement to sell its artificial satellite V-coronavirus vaccine to other countries. Analysts say this may allow Moscow to exert soft power on receiving countries, especially in South America and the Middle East.
Analysts said Putin may ask him for further help next year. He may ask Mr. Lukashenko to succumb to the Kremlin’s long-term efforts to bring its smaller neighbors into its orbit more closely. The governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan may respect Russia more because they rely on Putin to stop fighting in the South Caucasus.
Tensions with the West may continue this year, especially with the arrival of the Biden administration. This month’s news that Russia’s cyberattack on the US federal government was suspected of violating at least six cabinet-level departments further revealed the relationship between Moscow and Washington.
However, according to Putin’s supporters, confrontation with the West may benefit Putin’s domestic advantage.
The perception is: “If Putin is not good for Russia, then he will not be attacked like that,” said Sergey Markov, the head of the Kremlin at the Moscow Institute of Political Science. “The more the enemy angers, the more we are on the road to a bright future. For Putin, there is nothing special here. [It is] The natural process of attacking a successful Russian president. “
— Nonna Fomenko’s contribution to this article.
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