Staunton, October 31 – In response to growing protest activity in the regions, a new report by the Committee on Civic Initiatives says, the Kremlin has adopted measures intended to keep things quiet until after the March 2018 elections rather than ones that could allow for stable long-term development.
Increasingly, the report, whose authors are Nikolay Petrov, Aleksandr Kynyev, and Aleksey Titkov, says Moscow is using repression and “external administration and control in combination with horizontal rotation” which is leading to the reduction in the number of locals in positions of power [dekorenizatiya]” (fedpress.ru/article/1885743).
That may buy the Kremlin some quiet in the short term, the report says; but it means that it is likely to have to use force ever more often because it will not have local people in place who might enjoy the support of the population. Moreover, it will exacerbate the sense of “us” versus “them” between the regions and Moscow.
That is worrisome because the number of regions where protests are still at a very low level is declining while the number where protests are growing in size and number and issues is increasing, leaving the center with fewer and fewer choices concerning what it can and should do next.
And most serious of all, the many regions where institutional development remains extremely weak are likely to see that problem grow rather than decline as a result of the Kremlin’s chosen approach, a trend that means that if there is a crisis and serious disorders occur, the center will have fewer resources to counter them.