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The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Two More Lenin Statues Fall Overnight

Vladimir Putin may have had a very good year in 2013, but the reality is that by the time the crisis broke out in Ukraine Russia's economy was struggling, the opposition movement was resurgent, and the good press that was supposed to accompany the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics was fading as news of corruption on an incredible scale was taking center stage.

The annexation of Crimea changed the narrative. Putin's approval ratings soared, as did national pride. But The Interpreter's Andrew Bowen, writing for The Moscow Times, writes that ultimately Crimea will prove to be Putin's undoing.

Now Putin’s praetorians are beginning to attack each other in their search for new targets. Accusations, investigations, charges and even the odd police general jumping out a window are signs of increasingly cannibalistic competition among the myriad of Russian security agencies.

Crimea has also dashed the hope that Russia would support entrepreneurship over continued reliance on natural resources. State monopolies and the oil and gas sector are to remain the champions of the economy as sanctions sap investors’ confidence in Russia. Ukraine’s crisis, taken alongside Putin’s repressive politics, has also led to the emigration of the intellectuals and entrepreneurs needed to propel Russia’s economy.

This threatens more than simple growth projections — it threatens the implicit agreement which has allowed Putin to stay in power so long. Putin is allowed to rule, even in an increasingly authoritarian way, as long as stability and the standards of living rise. That agreement is under threat as the economy shifts from a free market to an oligopoly, with only a few sectors propelling the economy.

Read the entire article here.