After Momentus 2020, Russia’s Putin sees New Year as ever powerful

MOSCOW – During 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin took bold steps to consolidate his power at home and remained in power for nearly two decades, a potential bell for next year, when the Kremlin leader sidelined the remaining domestic opposition Could and strengthen Russia’s influence. abroad.

A controversial constitutional amendment approved in the summer allows Mr. Putin to remain in power until 2036, presumably. Earlier this month, the Russian president signed legislation extending immunity for former presidents from prosecution and allowed former Kremlin leaders to become senators in Russia’s parliament. Once they step down.

On July 1, Mr. Putin visited a polling station in the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow and voted in the 2020 Russian constitutional referendum.


Alexey Druzhinin / Tas / Zuma Press

He supported more restrictions on the Internet and made political protests harder. On Friday, Russian lawmakers approved a bill the Kremlin has endorsed to nominate individuals and groups who carry out political activity and receive funding from abroad as “foreign agents”, which would give them more restrictions. Subject to

As Mr. Putin is speculating about his plans for the end of his current term in 2024, these steps suggest that the Kremlin is preparing to protect itself from threats to its power, analysts said.

“Next year, Putin enters as a brutal, not altruistic, autocratic, ready to isolate Russia to an even greater extent,” said Andrei Kolenikov, an expert on Russian domestic policy at the Carnegov Moscow center. “And the more challenges to his rule, the harder and more ‘sovereign’ he is. Even there is no sign of symbolic liberalization.”

In July, people demonstrated in support of Sergei Fergal, governor of the Khabarovsk region, with posters called ‘Putin lost my faith,’ in Khabarovsk.


Igor Volkov / Associated Press

The July adoption of changes to the nation’s 1990s constitution marked an important moment for the Russian leader. The founder of R.Politik, an independent political analysis firm, Tatiana Stanovya said the belief in the Kremlin shows that Mr. Putin has popular support for the expansion of his power, but is showing enthusiasm for his leadership in elections.

“He could finally realize his dream to create a real Putin regime with its constitution and system,” she said.

Even this year, when Mr. Putin came down to save his power, dissatisfaction boiled over. Mass protests in the Far East city of Khabarovsk in July, falling income quickly following the arrest of a popular regional governor, growing resentment over unstable public services, including health care in the country, and were killed by Coronovirus, and Sh. The rule of Putin.

On Saturday, Russia recorded 29,258 new coronovirus cases, taking the total nationwide infections to the world’s fourth largest cassiolad, after the US, India and Brazil, according to Russian government data.

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny attended a video hearing by the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee in Brussels on 27 November.


Olivier Houslett / Shutterstock

Mr Putin awaited the protesters, and the crowd has since dispersed. But the anger reflects the split between the Kremlin and the average Russians.

“The gap between the Kremlin and society is widening,” Mr. Kolenikov said.

Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has tried to capitalize on public frustration to investigate allegations of government corruption and excesses and help organize anti-Kremlin voting strategies in regional elections.

But in August, Mr Navalny fell ill after suffering what European doctors said was in contact with the nerve agent Novichok – a substance that could only be of use to state actors, analysts and intelligence officials have said.

Mr. Navalny and his supporters believe that the Kremlin foiled a failed plot to assassinate him. Moscow has denied any involvement. Mr. Putin said earlier this month that if Russian intelligence agents had wanted to kill Mr. Navalny, “we would have finished work.”

The European Union in response imposed restrictions on members of Mr Putin’s inner circle. Russia responded in a different way.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, left, and Mr. Putin during their meeting at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, on Septic, 14.


Kremlin / EPA / Shutterstock

“I see that the regime has lost the ability to compromise any critic, and it has lost the ability to deal with any political risk peacefully,” Ms Stanovya said. “The only way it knows how to behave is to use repression.”

In the coming year, the Kremlin may advance Russia’s so-called systemic protests, or opposition groups and political parties tolerated by the government. Analysts say that meanwhile, opposition groups such as Mr. Navalni Lead will be suppressed.

The Kremlin has dismissed claims that it wants to incite discontent. In a March interview with the state news agency, TASS, Mr. Putin said that the voices of protest were necessary.

“There always has been and always will be a certain part of society in any country that disagrees with the authorities in power,” the Russian leader said. “And it’s great that such people exist.”

In the global arena this year, Mr Putin has expanded a political lifeline for the noted President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, who has opposed the presidential vote since a flawed August 9 demand to step down. Russian leaders were committed to military and financial support for their Belarusian counterpart.

Mr Putin also supported a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in November. The agreement describes the Kremlin’s position as a regional power broker and ensures its advantage over both countries. Russia already had a military base in Armenia, with which it also shares economic ties, but for the first time a peace agreement places Russian forces in Azerbaijan.

On 29 November a Russian soldier outside the town of Stepancart in the Nagorno-Karbakh region.


Karen Minassian / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Most former Soviet states “are our allies,” Mr. Putin told his National Security Council in August. “Our interests are in many ways financially and politically. This is undoubtedly one of our foreign policy priorities. “

In an interview, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said decisive action was needed to address this year’s crises, as well as Western sanctions and a “continuing adverse environment” by Moscow.

The crisis “demands rigor from the president, speed up decision-making,” he said. “Overall, we are confident that the main task was to maintain stability in all its directions. [and] It was preserved. “

Russia has made deals to sell its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to other countries, with analysts saying Moscow may allow soft power to increase over nations, particularly in South America and the Middle East.

A consignment of 300,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine from Russia arrived in Buenos Aires from Russia on Thursday.


esteban collazo / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Next year, Mr. Putin may seek returns on the help he has given, analysts said. He is likely to demand that Mr. Lukashenko leads the Kremlin’s long-standing efforts to attract more of its younger neighbor to its class. The Armenian and Azeri governments would be more harmful to Russia, as they depend on Mr. Putin to prevent the fighting in the South Caucasus from resuming.

Tensions with the West are likely to continue this year, especially with the arrival of the Biden administration. The revelations of a suspected Russian cyber attack on this month’s US federal government led to ties between Moscow and Washington to at least six cabinet-level departments.

But opposition to the West, according to his supporters, could work at home for Mr. Putin’s benefit.

The assumption is that “if Putin was bad for Russia, he would not be attacked,” said Sergei Markov, the pro-Kremlin director of the Institute for Political Studies in Moscow. “The more fierce the enemy is, the more we walk on the path of a bright future. For Putin, there is nothing special here. [It is] A natural process of attacks against a successful Russian president. “

Live broadcast of the annual end-of-year news conference by Mr. Putin on a screen set on the facade of a Moscow hotel on 17 December.


Anton Novoderezhkin / TAS / Zuma Press

Write N. M. Simmons at [email protected]

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