Putin and Russia in 2018–24: what next?

Following his re-election on 18 March 2018, by a respectable but not wholly earned margin of victory, Vladimir Putin will embark on what will, under present constitutional arrangements, be his final six-year term in office. Putin’s Russia is ruled by an opaque and shifting power structure centred on the Kremlin. It is now devoid of authoritative institutions beyond that framework that would enable Russia to develop into a fully functional or accountable state. The main objective of the incumbent regime is to protect its hold on power. It will therefore continue, between now and 2024, to follow the three main policy guidelines set by Putin in 2012: to do without significant structural economic reforms because of the political risks attached to them; to control the population; and to pursue ‘great power’ ambitions.As 2024 approaches, the question of who or what will replace Putin will come increasingly to the fore. There is already a sense that Russia is entering a post-Putin era. The vote for him on 18 March is one of accepting the inevitable, not a personal triumph. There is no organized group around him to manage an eventual replacement, or to be ready to consider what his successor’s (or successors’) objectives should be.

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