Navalny and Putin, the double challenge

By Nina Bachkatov

The latest episode concerning Alexei Navalny’s return to Moscow came on 18 January, when his lawyer tweeted that the City Court of Khimki decided to detain him for a month. He is accused of “systematic failure” to respect a 2014 tribunal decision giving him a suspended sentence under the condition that he would report twice a month to the police. Continue reading “Navalny and Putin, the double challenge”

Russian diplomacy and the lessons of 2020

By Nina Bachkatov

Recent international events have offered Russian diplomacy a source of inspiration it might have lacked otherwise. While the Kremlin was pretty much in a reactive drive, not without success as demonstrated in South Caucasus, it found in those events a new impulse towards its decades-old objective – to force the international community to recognise that Russia is not only back, but back as a global actor. Continue reading “Russian diplomacy and the lessons of 2020”

A dangerous semi-settlement in South Caucasus

By Nina Bachkatov

The military operations in South Caucasus have ended with the signature of a cease-fire by Azerbaijan and Armenia, under Russia’s auspices. The agreement provided for the deployment of 2.000 Russian peacekeepers in and around Nagorno-Karabakh; and the exchange of prisoners on the basis of an all-for-all formula. But to say that peace returned with the suspension of the military offensive is wishful thinking. Continue reading “A dangerous semi-settlement in South Caucasus”

The religious touch in Belarus

By Nina Bachkatov

Since August, Belarus looks like a ‘semi-frozen’ conflict zone. The country is deeply divided, between resilient but resolute opposition, rigid and brutal authorities, competition between opponents who are in exile and those who stayed in the country. In consequence, a political vacuum had developed that is calling for foreign and national troublemakers to step in. Continue reading “The religious touch in Belarus”

Obama’s message to Russia

By Nina Bachkatov

The book of former American president Obama, “A promised land” is a publisher’s dream, selling millions of copies through the world, at a moment when the foreign policy of his former vice-president, now elected president Biden, is everyone guess. Notably about Washington’s future relation with Moscow. Continue reading “Obama’s message to Russia”

Post-Trump Russia

By Nina Bachkatov

President Putin did not follow many world leaders, including Europeans, who rushed to congratulate American elected president Joe Biden. Russia, and China, have decided to play the legalist card, waiting for the publication of official results. Doing so, both countries wanted to profile themselves as international players who are a class in their own. Regularly accused of “managing” their elections and infringing human rights, they were in their view, contrary to the preachers of democracy, showing respect for voters’ choices. Continue reading “Post-Trump Russia”

The enduring myth of coloured revolutions

By Nina Bachkatov

Events in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan prompted references to “coloured revolutions”, an expression forged in 2003 when the first peaceful “revolution”, in Georgia, replaced the old guard inherited from the Soviet period by a new Western trained generation. A year later, the same pattern was used in Ukraine, then in Kyrgyzstan in 2005. Continue reading “The enduring myth of coloured revolutions”

Belarus – Armenia dilemnas

By Nina Bachkatov

With all eyes on Belarus, the latest eruption of violence in the Caucasus came as a shock. But, in fact, both crises were highly predictable due to internal and geopolitical complexities. At least they sent a strong signal to the West about the importance of geography and history over ideology. They highlight the danger of reducing the world affairs to a simplistic opposition between pro-Western and pro-Russian forces. Continue reading “Belarus – Armenia dilemnas”

Belarus lessons

By Nina Bachkatov

Whatever might happen in Belarus, the crisis that shacked the country is teaching lessons about the limits of antidemocratic regimes and the limits of outsiders’ influence. Weeks after his disputed reelection, Alexandr Lukashenko, president since 1994, is still confronted to an unusual form of contestation while his opponents face a president unwilling to follow the path of former Ukrainian president Yanukovich. Continue reading “Belarus lessons”

A second constitutional referendum – in the streets of Russia

By Nina Bachkatov & Andrew Wilson

President Putin expressed his satisfaction after a constitutional referendum that was a personal success, despite doubts about the conditions of votes or the organisation of the campaign. In the same time, the referendum tested the opposition, reshaping the border between the “non-systemic opposition” (the “liberal” opposition outside the system) and the “systemic opposition” (that takes part in the Duma and has generally backed Putin’s legislation). Continue reading “A second constitutional referendum – in the streets of Russia”