Russian police have systematically interfered with the presidential campaign of Russia’s leading political opposition figure Alexei Navalny (left), Human Rights Watch said today:
Human Rights Watch interviewed Navalny campaigners in Kazan, Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don, Kaliningrad, Irkutsk, Khabarovsk, St. Petersburg and Moscow [who] described a wide range of methods used to interfere with the campaign. Police have searched campaign offices, seized campaign materials or equipment, and intercepted and confiscated shipments of campaign materials under vague pretexts of “extremism” allegations. Authorities have refused to authorize Navalny’s campaign sidewalk displays, and have detained campaigners on groundless charges ….Authorities have also launched criminal inquiries into campaigners’ activities, including for arbitrary violation of lease agreements and other contracts, and distribution of extremist materials.
Russia’s current economic model is dualistic, according to a new analysis. On the one hand, the so-called systemic liberals are in charge of macroeconomic policy, which they pursue eminently. On the other, President Vladimir Putin allows state corporations, cronies, and law enforcement agencies to dominate the corporate economy, enriching themselves with little consideration of legality, notes Anders Aslund, who discusses the state of the Russian economy and prospects for reform:
The correlation between corruption and authoritarianism is strong, and resource rents and authoritarianism are naturally closely related, because a small elite can easily expropriate resource rents and maintain authoritarian rule to keep this flow of wealth. Thus, corruption is no accident but an intentional system to the benefits of the rulers. As a consequence, Russia and most post-Soviet countries have reached a stable equilibrium of high corruption, or concentration of rents, and authoritarianism. RTWT
In March 2018, Russia’s presidential elections will almost certainly result in a fourth term for Vladimir Putin. Putin’s third term as president has been marked not only by Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine and the resulting sharp decline in US-Russia relations, but also by an intense crackdown on independent political activity inside Russia. New repressive laws have seriously challenged civil society organizations’ ability to operate and sought to restrict Russia’s independent media and internet freedom. The government has also targeted political opposition figures with legal persecution and violence, most notably with the 2015 assassination of the politician Boris Nemtsov. Nevertheless, a courageous and committed Russian democratic movement has continued to adapt to these difficult circumstances and remains active today. This expert panel will discuss the challenges and opportunities for this democratic movement in the run-up to Russia’s 2018 presidential election and into Putin’s probable fourth term.
PROSPECTS FOR RUSSIA’S DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT
September 13, 2017. 08:30 am – 10:00 am. The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, First Street Northeast, Room SVC-203, Washington, DC 20515
Vadim Prokhorov, Personal Lawyer, Family of Boris Nemtsov; Vladimir Kara-Murza, Vice Chairman, Open Russia; Natalia Arno, President, Free Russia Foundation, Miriam Lanskoy, Senior Director for Russia and Eurasia, The National Endowment for Democracy and moderated by Carl Gershman, President, The National Endowment for Democracy. RSVP