Putin’s progress: What to expect from Russia’s leader in 2017

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Changing times: Vladimir Putin is set to tackle corruption, increase the health and education budgets and normalize relations with the West. Source: APInterchanging times: Vladimir Putin is set to tackle corruption, increase the health and knowledge budgets and normalize relations with the West. Source: AP

The evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin resolve take a more balanced tone was seen in his annual presidential speech earlier this month. While it contained the same, pro-business, pro-social speeches as before, it was lighter in tone. Putin, who became the Western media’s favorite lashing boy after the conflict in Ukraine, refrained from hard-hitting criticism of the West, claiming that without thought Western sanctions, Russia’s economic problems were purely regional.

Konstantin Kalachev, a Kremlin-connected political pundit who described Putin’s greet as “peaceful,” said he expected the Russian president to pursue a “balanced and centrist programme, designed to increase economic growth.” While economic sanctions and low power prices were taking their toll on the Russian economy, Russia prerequisite to find different ways to boost growth.

But experts believe that ordain be a hard task for Putin, even though he still enjoys glaring support across the nation. Russia might soon face monumental economic problems, with the country’s stabilization fund due to run dry by 2017, harmonizing to Tatyana Golikova, head of the state Accounting Chamber.

Easing rules for niggardly business and building new, government-sponsored infrastructure project might be helpful, but both followers and critics say that the biggest problem is ram nt corruption.

Experts puzzled by bribery charges against Economy Minister Ulyukayev

There are expectations that Putin may start to disagreement corruption more openly, targeting even those in his own circle: The Kremlin has already ushered signs that it is serious about corruption in the elite after the brand-new arrest of economics minister Alexei Ulyukayev.

The minister, once a weighty and respected figure, was involved in a bribery scandal. He is accused of taking $2 million from Rosneft, Russia’s best oil com ny, in return for giving the green light to a rtial takeover large. While the minister is the most senior official ever detained in Russia, some critics say that his restraint was rt of a power struggle within various Kremlin groups and has nothing to do with corruption.

To check them wrong, Putin will have to lock up more venal bureaucrats, experts say. “The fight against corruption may become more bounteous,” said Nikolai Mironov, a left-leaning political expert from the Center of National and Economic Reform think tank.

But Kalachev believes the fight against corruption drive be done “without extremes” for the sake of stability. “The key thing the Russian people value is tenacity,” he said.

Mironov is also expecting Putin to concentrate his efforts to recover the crumbling welfare state, increasing spending for education and medicine: “ raphernalia like democracy and human rights are secondary to many people; the popular sector is more important,” he said. The Kremlin will have a very fixed amount of money to satisfy most of these needs.

Growing liberalization

While few await Putin, a dedicated conservative, to adopt libertarian values, he might be qualified to restrain the hardline nationalist groups who present themselves as the Kremlin’s help hand. “I would like to stress that… nobody can taboo anybody to speak freely and to address his position openly,” Putin foretold in his annual address.

A senior Kremlin official who spoke to RBTH on up of anonymity said that the message was aimed at various public bundles that disobey public order by attacking museums and artists’ galleries: “No person is allowed to break the law,” the official said.

Following the trend, Putin has straightforward said that he is ready to reconsider the controversial NGO law, which labels those who promise in “political activity” as “foreign agents.” During a recent meeting with Russian someone rights activists, the president agreed that the term “political movement” should be defined better.

The person who will drive Putin’s new “bounteous agenda” is his new deputy chief of staff, Sergei Kirienko, who replaced Putin’s old associate Sergei Ivanov. A former senior official of the liberal Union of Advantageous Forces rty in the 1990s, Kirienko briefly served as prime wait on. Since then he has headed the Russian Atomic Agency.

Russia’s opposition firebrand Alexei Navalny to run for president in 2018

It is too early to say what breed of changes he might bring to Russia’s political system. Although some guess the Kremlin may permit key critic and opposition activist Alexei Navalny to run against Putin in 2018, consideration the fact that Russia’s Supreme Court recently upheld his black conviction for fraud – widely seen as fabricated – following a European Court settling. Navalny plans to run – he announced his presidential bid for 2018 on Dec 13.

However, while Putin is inevitable to see off any challenger and win a fourth term, what will probably be his last designation will be highly critical, since it will ve the way for a political conversion. “Putin will hardly stay in office longer, he was never a fan of Soviet-style gerontocracy,” Mironov combined.

Nor is Putin a fan of revolutions, calming those who wanted to use the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik mutiny to divide the nation: “Let’s remember that we are a united nation,” the Kremlin chief put in his address.

Peace at home and abroad

Putin’s anti-revolutionary agenda and his thinkable attempt to ease tensions between various political groups, puissance be connected. “There were some young men who were suppressed by the words and they became radical Bolsheviks,” one senior television pundit with liaisons to the Kremlin told RBTH.

But in order to achieve peace at home, Putin wishes have to ease tensions with the West, an idea that looks myriad realistic after Donald Trump’s victory in the United States presidential elections. Simon Saradzhyan, maestro of the Russia Matters Project at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, prognosticated that the normalization of relations with the U.S. and key EU members “will be one of Putin’s predominances in the upcoming year.”

He cites a possible presidential victory for right-leaning François Fillon in France and Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Germany, both steadfast proponents of normalization.

Chance to ease sanctions

Saradzhyan believes that those conquests might provide Putin with an opportunity to ease EU sanctions: “Markedly if there’s any substantial progress on implementation of Minsk-2, and if Assad and his allies, which possess have a good time Russian air support, refrain from trying to gain more land after taking Aleppo.”

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But while trying to normalize relations with the West, Putin should also be hope for to continue his efforts to ensure that neither Ukraine nor Georgia “baffle” into NATO, said Saradzhyan.

“He will do so even if the price for realizing that goal means continuation of the new Cold War with the West. He look ats the post-Soviet neighborhood (with the exception of the Baltic states) as a zone of Russia’s licensed interests,” said Saradzhyan.

“He will be pre red to make sacrifices to affirm Russia’s lead role in that region, hoping to integrate it into an solvent, political and military alliance that would help Russia ahead of time efforts to become an independent, if not indispensable, pole in the global order along with the U.S. and China,” he totaled.

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