This analysis reveals that Russia is marked by a bubbling social climate. Although opposition is still fragmented and discontent has not yet been channeled through an alternative political project, the dissatisfaction with the current leadership is mounting. Negative assessment of Putin, does not for the moment translate into a wider movement of protest. However, a prolonged modest economic growth can undermine political stability in Russia as social policies are less affordable than in the past. President Putin is not inclined to lead a profound transformation of his country because he is well aware that structural economic reforms entail more political efficiency and good governance, in other words more democracy. Putin’s presidency has temporarily benefitted from some successes in foreign and he might – depending on terrorism – distract its public opinion with Winter Sochi games. Nevertheless these events cannot help overcoming the real problems of the country. Economy and politics are so intertwined that the greatest challenge to the establishment in Russia is not coming from the streets but from the market.
Serena Giusti is Senior Associate Research Fellow for the Russia and EU Eastern Neighbours Programme at ISPI and, assistant Professor at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna di Pisa. She is also lecturer of Russian Foreign Policy at the Catholic University in Milan.