(Foreign Affairs) Obviously, 2020 was a terrible year. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, there was one bright spot. Putin solved his “2024 problem”—the legal constraint to standing for reelection in 2024. He did so by ramming through a constitutional overhaul that nullified the previous term limit—a special provision designed especially for him. In principle, the new rules allow Putin to stay in power until 2036, which would make him the longest-serving Russian ruler since Peter the Great.
Of course, 2020 did not go quite the way Putin wanted. Massive demonstrations in Belarus, a neighbor and one of Russia’s closest allies, showed the fragility of personalistic authoritarian regimes in the region. Russia’s Federal Security Service, which Putin himself once headed, bungled an assassination attempt against the Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Still, Putin accomplished his top goal for 2020. […]
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