January 17, 2020

Putin Is Following the Game Plan of Other Autocrats Before Him

By Andrea Kendall-Taylor

All of the sudden, the transition of power in Russia has begun. In his annual state of the nation speech on Jan. 15, Russian President Vladimir Putin surprised many by proposing constitutional changes that would redistribute power within the Russian government, giving more authority to positions Putin might himself take over when his presidential term expires in 2024.

It’s not that the idea of tinkering with Russia’s highest law was so shocking. After all, it was widely expected that Putin would find a way to extend his time in power beyond 2024. Instead, it was the timing of his announcement—four years before he has to step down—that caught people off guard. Yet by making the announcement now, Putin is avoiding succession pressures that could have built up over the course of the next several years and possibly triggered protests. Already, elite infighting was intensifying as individuals jockeyed for influence amid the uncertainty over Putin’s future. Moreover, the public’s discontent with the Russian economy, which has grown in recent years, is unlikely to abate. It could even worsen given Russia’s stagnant economic outlook.

Read the full article in Foreign Policy.

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