At the height of summer, the Russian capital was plunged into an unexpected political crisis as thousands of people took to the streets week after week to protest the election commission’s decision to bar opposition candidates from running in this Sunday’s elections for Moscow city council.
The largest anti-government protests since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in 2012 were greeted with a heavy-handed response: Armor-clad riot police beat unarmed protestors with batons, and more than 1,300 people were arrested in a single day at the peak of the crackdown.
The Moscow city council elections were an unlikely political lightning rod. The body has long been regarded as largely insignificant with little real power. But the outcry shone a light on a new political reality emerging in Russia as Putin approaches his constitutionally imposed term limit in 2024. Economic stagnation and the lingering uncertainty of what’s to come after 2024 has already begun to place strain on the system that has become synonymous with the Russian president as unrest has been brewing not only at the grassroots level, but also among a political elite that has shown signs of doubt in the country’s trajectory.
Read the full article and more in Foreign Policy.