Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, December 09, 2011

More expert analysis on Russia

Dr. Joshua Tucker quotes Dr. Graeme Robertson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Robertson is "an expert on protest in Russia."

The Beginning of the End of the Putin Regime as We have Known It
Most people, myself included… were surprised by the results of the Russian Duma elections last Sunday. But the protests that have followed, in Moscow, St. Petersburg and across the country, should be less surprising. Far from being spontaneous or unexpected, this week’s protests are the result of years of campaigning and organizing by the anti-system opposition…

[T]he Russian state’s counter-mobilization capacity is extremely strong. Nashi, Mestnie, Moldaya Gvardia and other pro-government youth groups have been organizing large events in key locations in Moscow. On Tuesday, some 17 000 young people participated in a pro-government meeting in front of giant pictures of outgoing President, Dmitrii Medvedev (an unlikely subject for a personality cult if ever there was one!)…

The final key element in this story is the Russian political elite, which to date remains strongly behind the Putin/Medvedev project…

In this regard, the current situation in Russia is completely different from events in Serbia, Ukraine or Georgia. There is no credible political alternative to the current administration and defections from the ruling party are highly unlikely…

So it is unlikely (not impossible – but don’t bet on it) that this week’s protests will prevent the new Duma taking its seats, or Vladimir Putin returning to the presidency. Nevertheless, the events of this week are significant. The opposition that was born in the pensioners’ protests in 2005 has come of age, and protest in the streets is signaling the beginning of the end of the Putin regime as we have known it.

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