Staunton, May 10 – Vladimir Putin’s desire that nothing should upset his electoral campaign may cause Russian officials to postpone plans for various changes until after the vote if they face or fear they will face mass protests, a trend that might keep things quieter than otherwise but one that gives those with grievances against the authorities a new opportunity.
To the extent that is true, the Kremlin leader may have won a battle but lost a war because many groups, from the long-haul truck drivers to Moscow khrushchoby residents to those who have seen their benefits cut will have new reason to protest or even better to threaten to protest if Moscow continues with policies they don’t like.
And this experience of winning through protests is not something that they will soon forget, especially since it implies that Putin and his team are so frightened of demonstrations and what they might mean for the stability of the Russian Federation that the regime can be forced to back down.
That prospect is implied by the analysis of Moscow economist Mikhail Khazin who suggests the powers that be, “having encountered protests, may stop the project for the renovation of Moscow until after the presidential elections in 2018” (newizv.ru/news/politics/09-05-2017/mihail-hazin-proekt-renovatsii-mozhet-byt-zakryt-do-vyborov-prezidenta).
Khazin’s analysis is not new: Almost three weeks ago, Moscow commentator Yekaterina Schulmann drew a similar conclusion about the likelihood that the Kremlin would make such a calculation (newizv.ru/news/politics/21-04-2017/ekaterina-shulman-reaktsiya-grazhdan-na-snos-moskvy-uzhe-pugaet-vlasti).