Putin’s Constitutional Gambit and Grassroots Mobilization in Russia

Earlier this year, Vladimir Putin initiated constitutional changes that will give him the right to rule beyond the expiry of his current presidential term in 2024. Intended to reduce uncertainty and keep his options open, the change may have opened up potential for new forms of instability, especially in combination with the unexpected onset of the COVID-19 health crisis. How are Russians expected to react to increased uncertainty and looming economic crisis? On the one hand, despite the regime’s efforts to stifle the pubic contention Russian society increased its pressure on the political institutions during the last decade; on the other hand, this contention is not unidirectional and comprises multiple actors with diverse agendas. The current crisis presents opportunities to redefine the contract between the citizens and the regime.

Henry Hale is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University and Co-Director of the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia (PONARS Eurasia). He has spent extensive time conducting field research in post-Soviet Eurasia and is currently working on identity politics and political system change, with a special focus now on public opinion dynamics in Russia and Ukraine. His work has won two prizes from the American Political Science Association and he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for his research in Russia in 2007-2008.

Andrei Semenov is a senior researcher at the Center for Comparative History and Politics (Perm State University, Russia) and associate research scholar at MacMillan Center (Yale). He studies opposition and mobilization, civic and urban activism, electoral and subnational politics in Russia. His most recent research appeared in Social Movements Studies, Demokratizatsiya, The Journal of Social Policy Studies, and Sociological Studies journals.