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11/14/2015

DomesticpoliticalstabilityinRussiadependsonUkrainereport|RussiaBeyondtheHeadlines

DomesticpoliticalstabilityinRussia
dependsonUkrainereport
April6,2015YEKATERINASINELSCHIKOVA,RBTH

Anewlypublishedreporttitled"BetweenCrimeaandtheCrisis"putsforwardtwoscenarios
ofRussia'sfuture,bothofwhichpredictseriousdomesticupheavals.Everythinghingeson
theoutcomeoftheUkrainianconflict.Howlikelyarethesescenarios?RBTHinvestigates.

TheOtherRussiaactivistsattendaprotestrallyneartheCentralElectionCommission
inMoscow.Source:AndreiStenin/RIANovosti

Russiawillbesweptbymoodsofprotest.When?Italldependsonthesituation
insoutheasternUkraine.Thesearetheviewsexpressedin"BetweenCrimea
andtheCrisis,"areportpreparedfortheCommitteeofCivilInitiatives,whichis
managedbyexFinanceMinisterAlexeiKudrin,andpublishedonMarch31on
thecommittee'ssite.
Accordingtothereport,domesticeventsinRussiaarelikelytoevolve
accordingtotwoscenarios.
ThefirstenvisagesanendtothemilitaryconflictinUkraineandaconcurrent
relaxationoftheinternationalpressureonRussia,which,withthelackofan
externalthreat,willredirectcitizensattentiontotheproblemsoftheeconomy.
Theaggressioncurrentlyfocusedonperceivedexternalenemieswillbe
channeledtowardsinternalones:"officialsandmigrants."Supportforthe
governmentwilldrasticallyfall,whichcouldleadtoseriouseconomicprotests
similarinsizetotheonesin20112012.
Thesecondscenariolooksatthepossibleconsequencesofaprotractedarmed
conflictandpositsthat"themassconsciousnesswillsupportthecountry'sself
isolation."Insuchasituation,saysthereport,theaggressiontowardsthe
perceivedexternalenemywillremain,butwearinessoftheconflictandthe
crisiswillleadtoprotestsand"thegradualerosionofsupportforthe
government."
Theauthorsofthereportexpectseriouspoliticalconsequencestomanifest
themselvesduringthe2016parliamentaryelections.
ThereportsprincipalauthoriseconomistMikhailDmitriev,exDeputyMinister
ofEconomicDevelopmentandTrade.Dmitrievearlierpredictedthe
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11/14/2015

DomesticpoliticalstabilityinRussiadependsonUkrainereport|RussiaBeyondtheHeadlines

developmentofthecrisisin2008andtheprotestsof2011.

Arescenarioslikely?
OtherexpertshavevariousopinionsofthereportpreparedbyKudrin'steam.
"Itsaysthatadtentewouldcreateproblemsforthegovernment,moreover,
startingwiththe2016elections,saysKonstantinKalachev,directorofthe
independentPoliticalExpertGroup.Ithinkitisthecontrary:Adtentewould
stabilizethegovernment'sposition,whileaprotractedconflictandselfisolation
wouldnothelpconfidenceratingstoremainhighforlong."
KalachevremindsusthatGeorgeBush,Jr.'sratingswelledduringAmerica's
invasionofIraq,"butwhentheU.S.wasboggeddowninIraq,therating
declined."IfRussia"getsboggeddowninUkraine,"itisinevitablethatthe
samethingwillhappen.
ProfessorLeonidPolyakovoftheDepartmentofPoliticalSciencesatthe
HigherSchoolofEconomicsagreesthatthesettlementoftheUkrainianconflict
willhavebeneficialeffectsonRussia.Polyakovbelievesthatifthewarof
sanctionscontinues,itwillindeedleadto"anisolatedexistence,"butthiswill
notresultinactsofprotestsagainstthegovernmentormigrantworkers.
"Idon'tseealinkbetweenthegrowthofxenophobicattitudesandtheWest's
pressureonus,"saysPolyakov."ThemigrantsinRussiabynomeanscome
fromtheWest."

Putinsratinganomalouslyhigh
However,everyoneRBTHinterviewedspokeabouttheinstabilityofRussian
PresidentVladimirPutinsconfidencerating,aswellasthatofrulingparty
UnitedRussia.
KalachevisconvincedthatPutinsratingishighthankstothesupportoftwo
groups:thosewhoexpectstabilityfromthegovernmentandthosewhoseek
mobilizationandnewfeats."Buttheinterestsofthefirstcategorycontradictthe
interestsofthesecond,"saysKalachev."Andwhentheycollide,theratingmay
evenbeannihilated."
Theratingisindeedanomalouslyhigh(75percentinMarch2015,accordingto
thePublicOpinionFoundation).ThisisthedirectconsequenceofRussia's
annexationofCrimea,explainsPolyakov.Therefore,theindicatorshouldfallto
anormallyhighleveloftwothirds(6065percent)."Thatistheprecise
percentageofthosewhostablyvoteforthepresident,"hesaid.
AccordingtoNatalyaZubarevich,directorofregionalprogramsatthe
IndependentInstituteofSocialPolitics,"adecreaseisinevitable."Zubarevich
recallsthattheratingfellaftertheGeorgianWarin2008,influencedbythe
economiccrisis,sinkingtoalowin2013(VladimirPutin'smaximum
disapprovalratingwasinFebruary2013:atthetime,35percentofRussians
disapprovedofthepresident,accordingtoaLevadaCentersurvey).
"Ithinkthatnowtheratingwillfallatthesamespeed,"saysZubarevich.She
addsthatbackthen,however,therewasno"totalpropaganda"ofthekindseen
today.Butitisneverthelessclear,shesays,hintingatmanyRussians
frustrationwithalackofEUfoodimportsduetoMoscowsembargo,howwhat
shedescribesas"thegreatwarbetweentherefrigeratorandthetelevision"will
end.
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DomesticpoliticalstabilityinRussiadependsonUkrainereport|RussiaBeyondtheHeadlines

ExpatsinRussia:Nolongeraboombutnotalldoomand
gloom

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