(Post-Soviet Affairs) We know from prior research that non-democratic regimes can become vulnerable when elites anticipate succession at the top, but we know little about what shapes these elites’ expectations. This study examines connections between such expectations and Russia’s relationships to the outside world. Analysis of elite opinion data from the 2016 Survey of Russian Elites reveals strong associations between identifying Russia with European civilization and expecting Russian politics to display behaviors more like those believed to characterize European polities, including more frequent dominant party turnover. Elites appear not to expect their top political leadership to pay a political price for what they perceive as foreign policy blunders in a consistent way, though opposition elites critical of Russia’s actions in Ukraine are found to expect an earlier United Russia Party exit. Variations in threat perceptions are not found to influence predictions of leadership tenure.
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