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The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Prospects for Russia´s Domestic and Foreign Developments in the Near Future

Chair: Edwin Bacon (Birkbeck, University of London, UK)
Jussi Lassila (Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Finland): Prospects of Political Mobilization in Russia After 2018
Veera Laine (Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Finland): Traditional Values as the Basis of State Nationalism in Russia: Will They Prevail?
Arkady Moshes (Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Finland): A Lasting Farewell or a New Beginning? Mid-Term Options for Russian-European Relations
Ryhor Nizhnikau (Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Finland): The Evolution of the Belarus-Russia Relations After the Ukraine's Crisis

Russia´s political dynamics over the course of the last ten years have demonstrated interesting controversies. Political consolidation and economic growth of Putin´s first two terms were followed by clear signs of Russia´s resentment against the West along with some authoritarian tendencies. Dmitri Medvedev´s modernization discourse signaled Russia´s orientation with the Western norms, yet this was partially distorted by the war against Georgia in 2008. By the end of Medvedev´s term it appeared that a significant number of urban Russians had become dissatisfied with rulers. While the large-scale protests in 2011-12 marked a rupture in the legitimacy of the Kremlin´s soft authoritarian governance, Putin´s shift to stricter authoritarianism and more systematic anti-Western policies, culminated in the annexation of the Crimea in 2014, met astonishing public support. Again, when it was generally assumed that Russia is simply moving to an even greater consolidation of her authoritarian course by the symbolic re-election of Putin in 2018, visibly activated protests and the international isolation raise several issues for Russia´s near future. Whereas it is highly probable that Putin will be re-elected in 2018, his third term will face significant challenges. This panel addresses some key issues regarding prospects in Russia´s domestic and foreign politics in the near future. How can the electoral authoritarian rule sustain its legitimacy in terms of (de)mobilization and generational challenges? Will the state be willing and able to generate (material and immaterial) resources to its interpretation of nationalism in the future, and will the conservative values linked to the current political leadership prevail? In terms of foreign policies, Europe-Russia relations are approached via the shape they have taken by now towards the interpretation of what is possible and what not in the period until 2025. Moreover, the evolution and scenarios of tensions in Russia´s relations to Belarus and Moldovia, particularly apparent after the Ukraine crisis, are analysed.