A Talk byProfessor Stephen White
Language: In English
Having been regarded as the ‘Strongman in the Kremlin’ for many years, Putin’s leadership of Russia is looking increasingly insecure. People are rallying to the call of opposition leaders and vocal critics, such as Alexei Navalny, Ilya Yashin, Ksenia Sobchak and Sergei Udaltsov. Internet bloggers and many protest groups are using Twitter to galvanize protesters who are forming interest groups. More accustomed to displays of fealty and fawning by the news media, Putin was met by a chorus of boos after he began addressing the crowd at a martial arts match late in 2011. In mid-December 2011 some 50,000 middle-class Muscovites massed near the Kremlin to express their opposition to Putin – he blamed ‘Russia’s enemies’ for fuelling the protest movement. He also stated that the protestors represented a ‘very small minority’, but it is now estimated that a full 25% of the electorate is convinced that the Putin regime has to go. What is Vladimir Putin’s reaction to all this? Will he manage to come up with an ideology and appeal to the traditional tropes of patriotism and Russian Orthodoxy? There are also cracks appearing within his inner circles in the Kremlin: Putin recently replaced the head of the Russian military’s general staff and a number of top generals. Corruption is rife, despite the anti-corruption drive, yet many Russians are sceptical that it can be uprooted.
Professor Stephen White is James Bryce Professor of Politics at the University of Glasgow and a Senior Associate Member of its School of Central and East European Studies. He is also Adjunct Professor of European Studies at the Johns Hopkins University Bologna Center and Visiting Professor at the Institute of Applied Politics in Moscow. His most recent books include the edited collecions Developments in Russian Politics 7 (2010), Media, Culture and Society in Putin’s Russia and Politics and the Ruling Group in Putin’s Russia (2008) , and his latest book, Understanding Russian Politics (2011) has been highly acclaimed.