Vladimir Putin is a very, very carefully loosens the reins before the election next year

Some commentators say that Russia is a political thaw: some political prisoners are suddenly released. But many others believe that this is only a temporary tactical maneuver ahead of elections in March 2018.

It would be incorrect to call the dramatic development of the situation. But after five years of course to the oppression of opposition and civil society think that now President Vladimir Putin has decided to loosen the reins a little.

Several important political prisoners had been released or pardoned. The idea of Putin to create a unified Russian people postponed.

Changes in the election law that was supposed to make the presidential election more transparent and to protect them from fraud, is now in preparation.

And despite the request coming from the ultra-conservative Duma Deputy, the Minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky said that the new disney version of “beauty and the beast” cannot be regarded as homosexual propaganda, contrary to Russian law.

“There is an understanding that before the election of the President need a kind of liberalization,” said a senior source in the lower house of Parliament, the state Duma, and independent Russian newspaper RBC.

The fourth victory of Putin in the elections

This will be the election in which Vladimir Putin, it may be run for the fourth time. And if that happens, he will win for the fourth time, and probably even more convincingly than before, when the presidential election in 2012, he received 63.6% of votes.

It seems that in 2018, Putin is also not configured to take too many risks.

Its only competitor, which could be at least a shadow of chance to win, the liberal and nationalist-oriented Alexei Navalny is likely to be excluded from participation in the elections because of the prison term to which he was sentenced last month on dubious legal grounds.

In an attempt to increase the enthusiasm in General quite apathetic Russian voters, the ruling elite decided to move the elections from 11 to 18 March, to coincide with the anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

But at the same time, it is obvious that the Kremlin is committed to ensuring that all elections to be held as legitimate. And apparently campaign strategists led by the new Deputy head of Putin administration Sergey Kirienko has decided that you can afford to slightly loosen the nuts.

“On the eve of elections declared a policy of universal consensus and reconciliation, so why to split the society is clearly unjust persecution of dissent? The more that threats of mass meetings for political reasons, not now,” said Nikolai Mironov, head of the Moscow analytical center of economic and political reforms, to deal with Ura.

Release one by one

A few weeks ago, the Supreme court decided to release perhaps the most prominent of the political prisoners of the country — liberal activist Ildar Dading, who became the symbol of some of the most controversial issues in the activities of the Russian judicial system. His first prison term — two and a half years, Dading received for participating in a peaceful, but unauthorized demonstrations against the regime. He was subjected to torture, which seems to be common to many Russian prisons. He disappeared for a month, when it was transported from one prison to another.

© AFP 2017, Philipp KireevДадин Ildar during a rally

A few days later, the opposition activist Taisiya Osipova was paroled early after serving six out of eight years in prison for drug trafficking.

Last Monday was cancelled the verdict of former kindergarten teacher Eugenia Chudnovets from the Siberian city of Kurgan, after she was held in prison for five months. She was convicted of distribution of child pornography: if you share, she drew attention to three-second videos on the social network Vkontakte, which is seen as humiliating a little boy at summer camp.

A day later, Putin pardoned Oksana, Sebastini, store Manager from Sochi. Last year she was sentenced to seven years in prison for treason, after April 2008, sent two texts to a friend in Georgia, which talked about the movement of Russian troops across the border between the two countries, between which later the same year broke out a short war.

Trendy word “thaw”

These unexpected liberation has led to political tests suddenly became a fashionable word “thaw”. Before this concept is most often applied to the period after the death of Joseph Stalin to power in the Soviet Union came Nikita Khrushchev, and later — to reforms during the reign of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union.

“The Kremlin, controlling the courts and Prosecutor’s office in manual mode, apparently, decided to play a little “liberalism” and “legality”,” — writes Russian sociologist in exile Igor eydman in Facebook.

Like many other critics of the regime, eydman, however, advises not to attach too much importance to these exemptions.

“Of course, all this is a temporary political stunt. A timid, barely visible “thaw” trend will end immediately, if the dictator decides that the liberalism can be dangerous for his regime,” said eidman.

Adjustment, normalization

Other doubt: is it possible to speak about some kind of thaw? Konstantin Kalachev, head of the political expert group, in an interview with the Internet resource Ura calls it “the adjustment of the centrist policy of Russia”, and another expert, Yevgeny Minchenko, said that “there is a request not for the liberalization and normalization, because the degree is raised so that a simple return is already perceived as a kind of thaw.”

“It is worth remembering the thaw of Gorbachev, which has launched an avalanche-like process of loss of control. The eternal fear of the state apparatus and the eternal dream of the radical opposition. But today we are dealing not with a thaw, even in a limited sense. It is only about the “thaw scenarios,” says Putin’s former adviser Gleb Pavlovsky in independent web publishing Republic.

As if to emphasize that Russia did not suddenly become liberal player, recently released Ildar Dading Friday were briefly detained in Moscow — once had picket against his Karelian prison chiefs.

Last week, the apartment of human rights activist Zoe Light subjected to the eleven-hour search.

Although “beauty and the Beast”, despite the four-second scene of the dance of two male characters, according to the government, cannot be considered “homosexual propaganda”, after all in Russia the disney movie just in case, will show the audience at least 16 years old.