South Asia and Beyond

‘Putin Does Not See Navalny As A Threat’

NEW DELHI: The anti-government demonstrations in many cities all over Russia are just that, directed at a government that is seen to have failed in maintaining living standards and stabilizing prices, says Nandan Unnikrishnan, research scholar on Russia at the Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.

In an exclusive chat with StratNews Global, Unnikrishnan argues that the demonstrations are not directed at President Vladimir Putin, since he is seen as standing above the fray. But there is public ire over his subordinates inability to ensure the lives of ordinary Russians. It reflects anger over corruption of every kind.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen as trying to benefit from this public upsurge. A right-wing nationalist, he enjoys the support of young Russians but the real clincher for him could be if the middle class backs him, which is not the case now. Unnikrishnan believes he may even be getting covert support from overseas but there is nothing to suggest he is trying to undermine the Russian state.

Nitin A Gokhale WhatsApp Channel

The demonstrations have underscored the establishment’s dilemma over who will succeed Putin, says Unnikrishnan. At this point no credible successor is visible. Putin has credibility not only with the people, he is also regarded as an impartial and fair arbiter when it comes to resolving disputes within the establishment.

So unless Putin goes completely off-track or is seen as not doing his duty by his people, in all likelihood he could continue as president into the foreseeable future.

Surya Gangadharan

Thirty eight years in journalism, widely travelled, history buff with a preference for Old Monk Rum. Current interest/focus spans China, Technology and Trade. Recent reads: Steven Colls Directorate S and Alexander Frater's Chasing the Monsoon. Netflix/Prime video junkie. Loves animal videos on Facebook. Reluctant tweeter.