Vladimir Putin’s constitutional charge

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

He has been often accused of dragging Russia into a Brezhnev style stagnation. But, at 67, Vladimir Putin shows he can also strike quickly. On 15 January, during his annual address to Parliament, the Russian president took everyone by surprise when he announced sweeping changes to the Constitution intended to revolution the power system in Russia. Continue reading “Vladimir Putin’s constitutional charge”

Russia and global warming: a dual approach

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Concern over climate changes entered recently into the Russian political vocabulary, but in early January the government announced it had adopted a two years plan due to “reduce the vulnerability” of the life and health Russian population and the economic development economy, but also to “seize opportunities deriving from those changes”. This dual approach reflects the peculiar attitude of Russia towards the challenge of climate change, and its peculiar relation with “nature”. Continue reading “Russia and global warming: a dual approach”

Twenty years in the Kremlin

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Russia often invites brutal comments, and Vladimir Putin even more. The numerous articles written to mark the 20 years of his presidency offer a collection of declarations and predictions made at the time that their authors would prefer to forget. The best of all being the question that an American journalist, Trudy Rubin, obviously proud of his audace, asked to a panel of Russian officials and businesspeople “Who is Mr. Putin?”. That was a few weeks since Putin appeared “from nowhere” – translation “from where Westerners did not see him coming”, contrary to Russians for whom he has been prime ministers for almost 5 months. Continue reading “Twenty years in the Kremlin”

The odd trio again: gas, Russia, Ukraine

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

The war that never started was averted thanks to an agreement signed ahead of the 31 December deadline. The negotiations concerned gas deliveries, but in fact they have to be seen against a larger background involving Ukraine-Russia bilateral relations; relations of both countries with EU; and divisions inside EU about everything concerning Russia. Continue reading “The odd trio again: gas, Russia, Ukraine”

President Zelensky’s Parisian challenge

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Finally, the members of the Normandy Four format will hold their first meeting since 2016 with the intention to create the necessary conditions for peace to return in the Donbass where rebels, backed by Moscow, are still confronting the Ukrainian army and hoping for a political solution. Continue reading “President Zelensky’s Parisian challenge”

From the Berlin wall to the Kremlin wall

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

For those following the event from Moscow at the time, the contrast was striking. On one side, the thrill caused by the fall of Berlin Wall in the outside world, especially in the West; on the other, the quasi indifference with which it was met in the Soviet Union. Continue reading “From the Berlin wall to the Kremlin wall”

Vladimir the African

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

On 23-24 October, President Putin opens the first Russia-Africa Economic Forum in Sochi as part of the Russia-Africa summit. More than 50 African heads of state have been invited, which is why it was described as the signal of Russia’s return to Africa. Continue reading “Vladimir the African”

The new regional axis Minsk-Kiev

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Belarus president does not want the world to forget that the first agreements on Donbass were signed in its capital, Minsk, in February 2015, and that it represented a diplomatic success for the man still qualified at the time by Westerners as “the last dictator of Europe”. It led indeed to a thaw in the relations between Belarus, the European Union and Washington without antagonising Moscow. Continue reading “The new regional axis Minsk-Kiev”

President Zelensky trapped in Washington intrigues

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

For the second time since the surprise election of Donald Trump, the fight between the Democrats and president Trump is being fought in Ukraine. First, the Muller inquiry put its teeth into the business of Paul Manafort, briefly member of Trump’s campaign team, who made millions in Ukraine, including by orchestrating the election campaign of “pro-Russian” Yanukovich who defeated “pro-Western” Yushchenko. Continue reading “President Zelensky trapped in Washington intrigues”

Strange elections in Russia

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

Analysts continue to scrutinise the message send by Russian voters during the municipal and regional elections of 8 September to identify the winners and the losers. The sad fact is, probably, that despite the defeat of many candidates campaigning under the banner of United Russia, few liberal opponents won, and that despite big demonstrations the turnover was low. Many “independent” candidates were members of United Russia who did not need instructions from the top to make the switch, beeing too well aware that the label was a kiss of the death. Continue reading “Strange elections in Russia”