Is Russia’s anti-corruption movement Putin’s Kryptonite?



Russian President Vladimir Putin today criticized opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, indirectly accusing him of using his anticorruption campaign to gain political prominence, RFE/RL reports:

Without naming Navalny in comments at a meeting in St. Petersburg on April 24, Putin criticized people he said use anticorruption slogans “as an instrument in their own political fight for promoting themselves.”

An opinion poll by the Moscow-based Levada Center indicated that 38 percent of Russians supported the rallies and that 67 percent held Putin personally responsible for high-level corruption, Newsweek reports:

Perhaps more significant, the poll also revealed that 10 percent of Russians would be prepared to vote for Navalny in next March’s presidential election. For a politician who is mentioned by state media only when it accuses him of being a treacherous foreign agent, it was a remarkable result.

Recent years have seen a rise in anti-corruption protest movements across postsocialist states, Open Democracy adds:

In January, thousands took to the streets of Bucharest in the largest such demonstration since the fall of Ceaucescu. From Russia to Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and Romania, these protest cycles see citizens come together — whether on the square or in activist groups — to demand that public officials do not steal or abuse their positions. These movements are frequently framed in patriotic terms, and, in certain conditions, express anti-oligarchic, anti-communist and anti-authoritarian sentiments.

The anticipated aftermath of the recent anti-corruption protests in Russia is that the Kremlin will most likely continue the country’s long tradition of developing new methods of political and ideological co-optation, notes Jussi Lassila of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Yet the hitherto means of co-optation are now at a crossroads and the question of increasing the use of fear has become more acute, he writes in a new paper.

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