Risks of the Kremlin this year: a conversation with Russian political expert

Against the backdrop of economic sanctions imposed in connection with the Ukrainian problem, in 2015 the Russian economy showed a decline, amounting to 3.7%. However, this year is expected to increase due to the recovery in oil prices, which is the main export product of Russia.

The interest of Western investors to the Russian stock market is growing, but there are also the fears connected with political risks that may affect the world economy. On the prospects of domestic policy, we talked to the Professor and head of the Department of public relations of MGIMO Valery Solovey, who is known for having predicted sudden personnel changes that have occurred in the administration of President last summer.

Takayuki Tanaka: Before the presidential election is one year. What are the short-term Outlook domestic politics?

Valery Solovey: Many experts believe that President Putin in early autumn, will run and easily win. Nevertheless, I believe that there is only the appearance of stability and in the near future there is a risk of political crisis. 60% of Russians have enough income only for food. First and foremost, social instability will spread in regions where low standards of living and problems with employment. It is believed that Putin’s high rating, however, opinion polls do not report the number of people who refused to answer. Russia also has some tongue-in-cheek and true. The power ably demonstrates the power of instilling in people fear, but when citizens understand that it is not necessary to be afraid of an inefficient state, you may experience of the popular movement that no one expected.

The impression that opposition forces are not a powerful leader.

— Opposition blogger Alexei Navalny could lead the protest movement. He seeks to run for the presidency. Navalny is preparing for a large-scale protest movement. In addition, thanks to social networks demonstration can occur even in the absence of a clear leader. The protest movement can be suppressed by force, but there is a risk that the police will not obey orders.

What is behind the change of the head of the presidential administration?

— Putin wants to increase the efficiency of government and strengthen control. So old friends being replaced by young technocrats. The problem is that, by their nature, technocrats can submit to any boss. From the old friends they are distinguished by the fact that it is unknown whether they retain the loyalty, if there is an emergency.

In November last year, he was arrested and dismissed by the Minister of economic development Alexei Ulyukayev.

— Due to the economic crisis decreased the income. Intensified struggle of officials for the budget. The speaker was a weak official in a political sense. It is worth noting that this time Putin did not set the FSB on other liberal officials. Being a descendant of the KGB, Putin trusts those who worked in security, but he realizes that they are not able to manage the economy. His strategy is to create competition between several governmental groups, and to be a dictator, standing over all. He will not allow any groups to come forward.

Number two, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev may be Putin’s successor?

— I have information that Putin allegedly said that if with him something happens, a successor shall be Medvedev. Undoubtedly, Putin trusts Medvedev. Since Medvedev will be a weak President from the point of view of political power, Putin can make the ruling circles, who fear big changes after his departure. Putin does not trust completely, defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chairman of the state Duma Vyacheslav Volodin. Since both officials have political influence, they differ from the first Deputy head of the presidential administration, a technocrat Sergei Kiriyenko, who has no political ambitions. Putin doesn’t like people with a strong ambition. Currently between Kiriyenko and Volodin is the internal political struggle.

Can Putin to abolish all restrictions and become President for life?

— It is unthinkable. Currently, some unhappy segments of the population suffer, because I know that someday the term of Putin will come to an end. If he becomes President for life, there is a risk that it would give impetus to the movement for the overthrow of the dictator. It is not beneficial to Putin.

What are the prospects for the problem of “Northern territories” given the political situation around Russia?

— One should not expect big changes on the territorial issue. To solve the problem, it is necessary that Russia and the West have fixed relationships, but too many uncertainties: the policy of the administration to trump and so on. For Russia, there is a risk that its rapprochement with Japan, it can hurt China. The Putin administration has no reason to hurry with the settlement of the territorial problem. She will decide it slowly and in stages.