In recent weeks, the world has witnessed widespread protests around Russia. Reported tens of thousands of citizens have taken the streets – and braved the sub-zero temperatures – to protest for Nalany’s release.
The Kremlin responded how you would expect them to react by squashing the dissent using heavy-handed tactics.
The whole saga has led to questions over the legitimacy of Vladimir Putin’s Dictatorship. Is the Putin regime in danger?
What is the current situation?
On February 2nd, the Kremlin jailed Alexei Navalny for three-and-a-half years. In January, he returned to Moscow after recovering from poisoning, with the Russian regime being the prime suspect.
It has led to international condemnation in the west and vast protests around Russia. In court, Alexei Navalny called Vladimir Putin, a poisoner who is stealing from the Russian people.
Navalny has seen growing support over the last six months. His recent Putin Palace video has been seen over 100 million times on social media.
The Putin regime has often ignored Navalny’s presence – refusing to acknowledge his real name and dismissing Navalny’s claims. But the Kremlin has been forced to discuss Nalavy due to his popularity rise finally.
It did not prevent Navalny from facing jail – but it hasn’t stopped the mass protests either.
So what next?
According to Garry Kasparov, a democracy advocate and former chess champion, the Russian dictatorship will fall. He suggested in the Foreign Policy Magazine that although the Russian people have been disappointed for decades, there is a natural appetite for change in the future.
Garry Kasparov also suggested that history isn’t kind to a dictator, and they always go down in the end. He further added that he doesn’t know when Putin’s fall will come, but the good thing is that Putin doesn’t know either.
Although they have dipped in recent times, Putin’s approval ratings remain strong despite an alleged mishandling of COVID-19. And despite unrest among much of the Russian youth, most of the Russian population supports Putin’s presidency. According to Statista, 64 percent of Russia’s population supports Putin, and only 34 percent disapprove in January 2021.
Furthermore, Jeff Horn of the Foreign Policy Magazine suggested that Putin’s rule is in danger, but the dictatorship isn’t going down. There haven’t been any defections in Putin’s security services, and not a single desertion in the army either.
If a dictatorship is going to fall, there need to be signals of internal unrest between the government institutions. As of yet, Putin’s institutions remain very robust. Navalny doesn’t command the support of the masses either.
But if there is one thing the unrest shows – Putin can afford zero complacencies. Putin’s always been extremely cautious since the fall of the Soviet Union, and the recent unrest will have given flashbacks to the early 90s.
Putin’s leadership remains strong, but with the pandemic and the subsequent low oil prices in Russia, there will be testing times ahead for Putin. If Putin needed a reminder of how fragile dictatorships can be – January 2021 would have given him a steak reminder.
The following years will be very telling on the future of Putin’s autocratic government. But there needs to be a united opposition, and as of February 2021, Russia doesn’t quite have one yet.