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”

Political energy again dividing Russia and Belarus – differently

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

The latest energy crisis between Russia and Belarus followed a yearly routine, with partners discovering at the end of December that new contracts for energy deliveries have not been signed for next year. As usually, disagreements concern the prices that the producer wants to obtain and those the clients is ready to pay. From gas deliveries, the clash extended to oil. Continue reading “Political energy again dividing Russia and Belarus – differently”

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”

A gift for Russian opposition

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

As eyes are on football, the Russian government is launching a long due but unpopular reform of the pension system. On 14 June, the Russian prime minister Dmitri Medvedev signed and sent to the Duma a draft law proposing to raise the pension age from 60 to 65 for men and from 55 to 63 for women. The reform will be phased in over a number of years – by 2028 for men and 2034 for women. Continue reading “A gift for Russian opposition”

Oligarchs vs businessmen

By Nina Bachkatov and Andrew Wilson

For Russians, the word ‘oligarchs’ is out of touch with reality and adversarial. Especially since they are nominally targeted by Western sanctions. In August 2017, President Trump signed Russia sanctions’ bill into law and in April 2018 extended the so-called “Kremlin-List” to 210 of people “close to president Putin”. The criteria for selection were obscure and they often reflect a worrying lack of knowledge concerning Russian power circles and the undercurrents of the Russian society. Continue reading “Oligarchs vs businessmen”

Russia and China, a New Model of Great-Power Relations

By Nina Bachkatov

The continuing calm of Chinese-Russia relations is the subject of a recent study in Survival (Survival, Feb.-Mar. 2017), the bi-monthly journal of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. The article’s writers* focus on the way in which the two countries have avoided any turbulence that might have resulted from their imbalanced economic and strategic relationship. Continue reading “Russia and China, a New Model of Great-Power Relations”