Uncertainty is creeping up on Russia. For the first time since Vladimir Putin‘s rise to power, Moscow confronts the prospect of real political instability. One of Russia’s savviest politicians, Anatoly Chubais, said last month that the likelihood of serious turmoil — economic, social and even political — is 50 percent.
The current crisis is global, and there is no sure way to forecast its length or depth. Such uncertainty would be disturbing in any country but is especially alarming here. For years, Putin steadily eliminated all political threats to his power, and by the end of his second term as president he enjoyed absolute authority. Now that authority is being challenged by forces beyond his control.
By Masha Lipman
The Washington Post
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, seen here, warned Ukraine on Wednesday of “severe consequences” if it disrupted gas supplies to Europe, as another New Year’s Eve energy dispute went down to the wire.(AFP/RIA/File/Alexey Nikolsky)
Putin was blessed with rising energy prices that enabled him to build his oil-greased authoritarianism. He delivered generously to the nation, and the people readily withdrew from politics and rewarded him with high approval ratings. Likewise, the Russian elite stayed loyal, since the abundant oil revenue produced lucrative opportunities….