A year ahead of the March 2018 presidential elections, the Kremlin is engaging in two risky strategies. First, it projects that President Putin would win re-election with 70 percent of the vote and 70 percent turnout, a very high bar even in controlled elections. Second, in collaboration with the Moscow mayor, Putin launched a massive reconstruction project that would relocate 20 percent of city residents. The rapid implementation of the vague policy abrogated property rights and sparked a new “Anti-Demolition” movement.
This talk will address the roots of the Kremlin’s election strategy in relation to the popular challenges in the previous election cycle, in which Russians protested at the ballot box and on the streets to demand electoral accountability. In the face of the same conditions that led to the “For Free Elections” movement – economic crisis, softening regime support and growing protest movements around corruption, taxes and lack of property protections — this analysis will look at how the regime is relying on the Moscow Reconstruction Project to divide the opposition and demonstrate responsiveness to citizens’ demands, shore up core support and marginalize Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption movement.
Regina Smyth is an associate professor of political science and director of the Russian Studies Workshop at Indiana University.