by Gordon M. Hahn
Although 2016 will be a challenging year for Russia’s political stability, there is little likelihood the country will experience serious political tremors. The worst case scenario is a something akin to the demonstrations of winter 2011-2012 in the wake of the September Duma elections. A perfect storm is over the horizon but is still distant (2019) and can be avoided in the mid-term or at least delayed into President Vladimir Putin’s fourth term (2018-2024). Political stability will depend on two political factors: the unity of the ruling elite and the non-mobilization of society.
Despite the challenges that Russia’s already mid-length economic crisis has posed for currency reserves, state enterprise income, budget revenues and political patronage, Putin’s so-called ‘sistema’ retains sufficient resources for the near-term in order to maintain political unity through the year. Most fundamentally, according to Russia’s Central Bank, if Russia’s sovereign funds continue to…
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