September 13, 2017

“All of a Sudden…”

September 10, 2017, local elections were held in the Russian Federation. Despite the very small role of such events in the political life of the country, the course and results of the elections have become an indicator of qualitative changes in the moods and preferences of the Russian society.

Thus, a characteristic feature of the elections was the record low voter turnout — an average of 29 %, which showed that the majority of Russians have no hopes for the possibility of positive changes in the situation in the country. At the same time, the real surprise of the elections and an alarming signal for Putin's regime was the success of the opposition in Moscow, where it received the majority of mandates in some local municipalities. At this, not a single representative of the ruling “United Russia” party was elected to the municipality of Khamovniki district of the Russian capital.

All this confirms the tendency of the fall of the Russian officials' authority, which is a consequence of the aggravation of socio-economic problems in the country under the influence of Western sanctions. Evidence of this trend is also the radical change in issues and problems that the Russian citizens most worry about. Thus, according to the sociological research conducted in September 2017 against the background of high-profile publications by Russian media on “the railway arch being lifted into place over the Kerch Strait”, in reality, residents of the Russian Federation are concerned with absolutely different issues. The main ones were not the Crimea's “reunion” with Russia, creation of the “Russian world” or “protection of the Russian-speaking population in the territory of Ukraine”, but the banal ones — price increases, poverty of the population, unemployment, corruption and the crisis in the economy.

Indeed, what does the Crimea and the situation of “compatriots” in Ukraine matter to the Russian population if since the beginning of Putin's adventures in the Crimean Peninsula and Donbas, the standard of living in the Russian Federation has fallen by 20 % according to the official data alone, and the number of the poor has almost tripled. Instead of building a “great Russia”, one-third of Russians are forced to save on food and survive only at the expense of household plots.

Of course, the success of the opposition in the elections in Moscow will not shake V. Putin's regime. However, this already makes him think about his prospects. As the years 1917, 1991 and 1993 showed, the population's euphoria from the actions of the authorities immediately turns into bloody riots, come a suitable situation. It is understanding of this threat that makes V. Putin resort to further concessions regarding the conflict in the East of Ukraine, albeit with his attempts to keep the upper hand. Thus, during his telephone conversation with Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany A. Merkel September 11, 2017, Mr. Putin took another step in this direction by agreeing to the deployment of international peacekeeping forces in the entire zone of the OSCE observers' activity in the Donbas.

I wonder what will be his next step?