kolesnikov12_ Alexei DruzhininTASS via Getty Images_putin Alexei Druzhinin/TASS via Getty Images

The Caudillo of the Kremlin

By laying the constitutional groundwork to remain president for life, Vladimir Putin is engineering a further “Francoization” of his regime. But while Francisco Franco at least had a successor in King Juan Carlos, Putin has no such thing. which could spell chaos for Russia.

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown his regime’s real intentions. By changing the constitution to allow him to remain in office until 2036 and incorporating conservative new language, it has cast off its teetering mask of democratic legitimacy. But just as Putin has sought to entrench his rule, his regime is looking weaker than ever.

In the city of Khabarovsk, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in recent weeks, chanting, “Putin resign!” They are not alone. While Putin’s approval rating may seem high, it is low by Russian standards. In fact, his 59-60% approval rating in recent months is his lowest since October 1999, when he was prime minister. And it is unlikely to improve significantly for a simple reason: Putin tried-and-tested methods to win support have lost their firepower.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Russia hard, in terms of both public health and economic fallout. With oil exports, the mainstay of Russia’s economy, down sharply, the government’s budget revenues have cratered. As a result, the Kremlin’s tacit pact with the public – we ensure your basic wellbeing, and you don’t complain – is unraveling.

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