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Competition comes to Russian politics

  • Russia’s ‘Winter’ is not an Arab Spring, but its impact will leave a lasting and profound change on the country. It has injected genuine competition into the political process. Fear has been sucked out of the system.
  • A new generation of political leaders is starting to make its voice heard in Russia, putting the old guard under pressure. These voices are not coming out of the ‘formal’ opposition, but from ad hoc advocacy groups.
  • After a decade of acquiescence, the Moscow liberal and business elite are showing their first signs of discomfort with Putin. Sensing they now have the upper hand in the Kremlin, some increasingly see their former mentor as a liability.
  • Putin is far from finished. If he can accept a new level of debate and criticism, there is no reason why he cannot come out of the March elections with a strong mandate and a new level of legitimacy. What he does with that power is unclear.
  • For investors in Russia the protests should signal not revolution but evolution. They will not materially increase the level of political risk in Russia, and they may even decrease it.

The views expressed in this report can be attributed to the named author(s) only.