Programme Paper

Project: Russia and Eurasia Programme

Associate Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend the meeting with Presidential Economic Council presidium in Novo-Ogaryovo residence on 30 January 2014 near Moscow, Russia.Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty ImagesRussia's President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend the meeting with Presidential Economic Council presidium in Novo-Ogaryovo residence on 30 January 2014 near Moscow, Russia. Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images.

Summary points:

  • Russia’s ruling elite has scarcely changed since President Putin’s election in 2000. Following Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency in May 2012, power is even more centred on the Kremlin. The inner core is pushing Russia in an increasingly reactionary direction. By downgrading and circumventing governmental structures theoretically answerable to the prime minister, President Putin has taken still more responsibility on himself for deciding issues both great and small.
     
  • President Putin will have to find a way to tackle economic and demographic pressures. Russia’s regions are increasingly burdened with debt, and regional investment ahead of the 2012 APEC summit in Vladivostok and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi has failed to promote economic growth so far. This may produce a strain on state-society relations.
     
  • There is a lesson to be drawn from the political crisis in Ukraine, where the established politicians have lost control over the rising against President Yanukovych. One can be no more sure of the outcome of the crisis in Ukraine than one can be of the widely held assumption that Russia will muddle on and beyond 2018.