(Research Paper) (Co-authors: Anotn Sobolev and Irina V. Soboleva) This Higher School of Economics paper illustrates the government’s agility in response to opposition protests and the debacle of parliamentary elections. We explore the evolution of Kremlin strategies from a reliance on cooptation to more coercive strategies — a trend that continued after Putin’s election in March. These strategies were successful in mobilizing core voters, creating common identity among participants, and containing the electoral effects of the opposition protests. However, the government's strategy also embodied significant costs that are likely to have longer-term influences and did little to build a true movement of regime loyalists. The Kremlin’s rigid definition of both the symbols and rhetoric of Putinism left little room for participants to participate in the production of symbols and language. While the narratives imposed from above help Putin’s supporters to participate in political life in limited ways, they remain unable to formulate and articulate independent political positions. As a result, supporters remain highly dependent on the state. Deprived of the benefit of hearing supporters’ demands, this strategy also leaves the state in peril of further losing touch with its political base.
Read the full paper here © Social Science Electronic Publishing