At a conference organised jointly by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Centre for East European Policy Studies the possible consequences of the upcoming Russian presidential election were examined. Taking part in the debate were Mikhail Kasyanov, former prime minister of Russia (2002–2004) and one of the leaders of the People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS); Konstantin von Eggert, political commentator and journalist at Russia’s TV Dozhd; and Andrey Makarychev, professor of political science.
Mikhail Kasyanov argued that the current government and the administration of Russia in general are neither democratic nor constitutional. Russia equals Putin and without Putin there is no Russia – these are Putin’s key messages. At the same time, he pointed out that the majority of voters still support Putin, especially those in rural areas. Russia has only weak economic potential and is not on an equal footing with the EU or the United States, something that will not change due to Western sanctions.
According to Konstantin von Eggert the election »script« was written by the Kremlin and transformed into a kind of entertainment in which the other candidates were basically patsies and Putin was presented as the sole serious candidate. Von Eggert also pointed out that the current regime is preparing a shift of power, the first steps of which are already being taken, although it remains to be seen what the outcome of this will be. His prognosis is that the political crisis in Russia has been deepened by external pressure. Dr Makarychev showed, based on the presidential address of 1 March, that the Kremlin is once again on a Cold War footing with the West. The militarisation of the discourse has become a cultural phenomenon and thus particularly dangerous.
More than 80 experts from academia, politics, administration and the media took part in the discussion event, including a former president of Latvia.