The Lead-up to the Murder: Navalny and protest politics in Russia Alexei Navalny emerged as a central figure in opposition to Putin's authoritarianism, inspiring tens of thousands with the heroism of his fearlessness and fostering a new ethic of resistance. However, Navalny's political biography is not merely a derivative of his heroic persona. The phenomenon of Navalny is shaped by a confluence of expectations and aspirations that he embodied, becoming both a voluntary hostage and a symbol of them. Second Demobilisation: How public opinion changed during the second year of the war The core of support for the war in 2023 decreased one and a half times and became proportionate to those who generally lean towards anti-war views. The share of those who would be unwilling to support a decision by Putin to immediately withdraw troops also decreased, and by the end of the year, it became smaller than the share of those who would be willing to support such a decision. However, all this has led not to an increase in the number of people who oppose the war, but rather to the expansion of a zone of blurred and alienated attitudes toward it. Between 'Spiral of Silence' and 'Jumping on the Bandwagon': The influence of others on Russians' opinion of the Russia-Ukraine war While, in Russia, opponents of the war are disinclined to voice their opinions when they think they believe they are surrounded by those who support it, those who declare their support for the war are disinclined to defend their loyalty when they find themselves in a mixed society where different views on the war are represented. Reaping War: The Russian orthodox church and the Russian invasion of Ukraine Public perception identifies the position of the Russian Orthodox Church with the pro-war statements of Patriarch Kirill, but in reality the position of most of its clergy is determined by a compromise between loyalty to the Kremlin and commitment to the institutional interests of the church. It remains the largest public organisation in a number of post-Soviet countries, demonstrating a similar spectrum of attitudes towards the war as exists in society as a whole. The Anti-crisis Trap: How crisis management creates an economy of permanent crisis The high frequency of economic crises has shaped a unique type of anti-crisis economic policy in Russia: 'overcoming' each crisis involves freezing its consequences and factors of inefficiency. As a result, there is extremely slow growth during inter-crisis periods, which are becoming shorter and shorter. This model not only deprives the economy of incentives for development but also increases the probability of new crises, reducing their cost for the country's leadership. Outside and Inside: What The Experience of Russia’s Exiled Opposition Teaches and Does Not Teach Us A large number of activists, journalists and human rights defenders have left Russia since the war began, but in the past year and a half they have failed to create institutions that could represent the Russian opposition abroad and serve as the voice of the Russian democratic movement. How unique is this situation? What is the experience of other opposition diasporas that have left their countries due to domestic repression? What can such opposition achieve from abroad? Between De- and Hyper-Politisation: The evolution of Russian authoritarianism Over the past two decades, the Russian political regime has evolved through three distinct phases. Initially, during the 2000s, it embraced a depoliticised authoritarianism that focused on economic efficiency and imposed selective constraints on political liberties. In the following decade, the regime encountered a gradual resurgence of political awareness within society, prompting it to adopt a counter-politicisation strategy in response. However, as these measures proved inadequate in the 2020s, the regime turned to external aggression and intense politicisation, resulting in a radical transformation of both the regime itself and of broader society. Between mobilisation and tolerance lies the evolving nature of Ukrainian attitudes toward peace-minded Russians In late 2022, surveys indicated that most Ukrainians were hesitant to engage with Russian citizens, regardless of their views on the ongoing war. However, as of today, there is a growing agreement within Ukrainian society about the potential for cooperation with peace-oriented ‘ordinary’ Russians. There is now an unstable majority in favour of dialogue with the Russian leadership in the event that Russia sees a change of power and policy. Nevertheless, few currently believe that such a turn of events is possible. From Triumph to Collapse: How Germany is parting with Ostpolitik and what comes next Over the past fifty years 'Ostpolitik', Germany's 'eastern policy', formed an integral part of German identity, and the idea of a special relationship with Russia became a key element of Germany's global political and economic positioning. The invasion of Ukraine marked the collapse of 'Ostpolitik', which is understood as the collapse of the entire German foreign policy of previous decades. Germany's political system, which resembles a super-heavy oil tanker, is now forced to perform an abrupt pivot. Special Military Economic Geography: Changes in the Russian Economy by Region Looking at the dynamics of the Russian economy by region provides a multidimensional lens that reveals something that is not otherwise obvious from a sectoral analysis. The relatively good average figures conceal multidirectional dynamics, while the localisation of zones of abnormal growth and abnormal decline allows us to see past the optimistic figures of the Russian economy as a whole and to identify the process of structural transformation associated with its current anomalous conditions. The Exodus Year: Those Who Left, Those Who Stayed, and the Breakdown in Communication Both those who left Russia and those who stayed have a similar outlook on the political situation and rely on similar information sources. However, many of those who have stayed believe that those who have left hold them more responsible for the ongoing war and view their decision to stay as a deviant attitude. Overcoming this tension and developing an ideology of solidarity between the two groups is crucial as both groups need each other's support. Children, Chaebols and Adjutants: Human resource policy during the war’s first year In autocracies, the place of public politics is occupied by personnel politics, which becomes both the reflection and the result of struggles among elite factions, influence groups, and corporate interests, all of which are not able to be balanced out by the activities of public parties and associations. Against the backdrop of the tectonic social shifts associated with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the personnel changes of the first year of the war seem very modest. However, it is likely to be a lull caused by confusion in the face of setbacks. ‘Once we've started, we can't stop’: how Russians' attitudes to the war in Ukraine are changing Over the past year, a number of opinion polls have attempted to discover which Russians support the war in Ukraine and which do not. However, in-depth interviews reveal that these efforts may not be capable of yielding any satisfactory results: the majority of Russians both support and do not support the war at the same time. The attitudes of Russian citizens towards the war are a patchwork, contradictory and in flux, consisting of arguments and narratives from each side. THE PLUNGE INTO WAR: PUBLIC OPINION CHRONICLED While at first glance it may seem as though there is a declarative ‘majority of support’ for the war, there is perhaps more significantly a ‘majority of non-resistance’, which allows the pro-war minority to dominate the public debate. For mainstream Russian society, the ‘plunge into war’ remains a coerced strategy, and the consolidation of revanchist sentiments among one segment of society coexists with the considerable potential for demobilisation within another. Re: Russia presents an overview of the results of public opinion polling conducted by the independent Chronicles project. Worse Than a Crisis. The 2022 Russian economic anomaly: how it works, and where it is headed The Russian economy's decline in 2022 was not as severe as economists predicted, but that does not mean it was able to ‘withstand’ the impact of sanctions. These figures merely reflect the effective mobilisation of economic resources, and as the country’s revenues decline, the economy will face investment deficiency, devaluation, budget deficits, and demand contraction — all of which are symptoms of the conventional economic crisis that awaits Russia. Crisis in Abundance: why did the Russian economy fail to collapse and is there a crisis on the horizon? The sanctions imposed on the Russian economy are unprecedented in scale, but they appear to have been less effective than was initially expected. A combination of factors has helped stave off the collapse of the Russian economy, including contradictory sanctions policies, radical administrative decisions taken by the Kremlin, and a surge in Russian export revenues alongside a trade surplus reinforced by restrictions on Russian imports. A Price Cap or Smoke and Mirrors? How Much Does Russian Oil Actually Cost? There’s an assumption that the price cap on Russian oil is working perfectly. However, the terms of the Russian oil trade have changed, and it is therefore useless to employ the old methods of assessing the market under the current circumstances. Today these do not provide us with actual transparency so much as imitate it. In fact, it is most likely that the discount on Russian oil is not as significant as it seems at first glance, and moreover it is advantageous for Russian players to maintain the perception that sanctions on oil are working effectively. The Russian Rhizome: A Social Portrait of New Immigrants The new wave of emigration from Russia differs greatly from those that occurred in the twentieth century — the 2022 emigrants typically exhibit high levels of trust and social mobility, and they are ready and willing to become involved in the life of their host countries and actively participate in social initiatives. While these new emigrants have strong ties to Russia, they remain sceptical of the chance for positive change in their home country in the near future. Will the new diaspora have an impact on Russia's history? Regime of Imperial Paranoia: War in the Age of Empty Rhetoric Any rational explanation for Russia's invasion of Ukraine seems inadequate and unsatisfying, as it has never been based on any rational grounds. The war with Ukraine is a void created by the continual repetition of pseudo-meanings. Through rhetoric and projections into theatricalised rituals, it organises reality into simple and accessible behaviours that can be easily and widely assimilated thanks to their simplicity. The Patchwork Quilt: The Man-Made Crisis of 2022 and its Effect on Russia’s Regions In 2022, Russia has witnessed a variety of economic trends: some Russian regions have shown strong economic growth, while others have witnessed significant decline. These discrepancies, as Russian businesses have attempted to tackle the ongoing crisis, can be explained by an extensive list of factors: sanctions, the disruption of supply chains, government support packages, increased defence spending, Western companies leaving the Russian market, and the emergence of new product niches. Significantly, however, high revenues from raw material exports continue to mitigate the crisis. War as a Civilisational Shift The war against Ukraine has become an instrument to sever Russia's ties with the West in a radical manner. This may likely result in an equally radical transformation of Russian society, altering the natural course of its development. Marina Davydova, one of the main ideologues and facilitators of the integration between Russian and European theatre over the last decade, analyses the nature of this cultural and civilisational shift and its potential consequences, and describes the pogrom that Russian theatre has experienced since the start of the war. Special Operation Frustration Russian citizens are finding it increasingly difficult to respond to questions regarding the ‘special military operation’, such as when it will end and how well it is going. The number of Russians who are experiencing anxiety and depression is growing. These are the latest findings from polling by the independent Chronicles project. Although the level of support for the war recorded by this project has remained unchanged since the beginning of the summer — hovering at about 55% — the core of supporters of the ‘special operation’ stands at no more than a third of all respondents. Putin Fans or Kremlin Bots? Over the past decade Russia has created a powerful infrastructure of "networked authoritarianism". This is focused not on restriction but on the active creation of social media content. Analysis of simulated support for the authorities through astroturfing and the real response of social media users to the war in Ukraine shows that, despite the variety of the Kremlin’s online strategies, its social media propaganda is not always successful. However, it functions to distort our perceptions of "grassroots sentiment". Crisis Instead of a Deal Europe will survive the approaching winter without Russian gas, but the energy crisis will continue beyond this year, widening into a global economic crisis. Nevertheless, contrary to Kremlin expectations, the West has rejected the possibility of a political deal with Moscow, and the costs to Russia of the energy and sanctions war will mount rapidly. A new report by Sergei Vakulenko draws some preliminary conclusions from Russia's energy confrontation with the West. The Reverse Evolution of a Spin Dictatorship In the 21st century, repressive dictatorships seem to have morphed into "spin dictatorships" based on control over the media, but Russia is undergoing a reverse evolution, turning back into a traditional "dictatorship of fear". According to Daniel Treisman, the reason for this regression is not the conservatism and imperial ambitions of the Russian people, but rather the inability of Putin's regime to cope with a successful modernisation of Russian society. An ideology without principles Authoritarian regimes paid great attention to ideological construction in the twentieth century, but in the twenty-first century they have been characterised by ideological passivity. Despite this, Putin's war requires not only military but also political mobilisation. The war requires the construction of ideological narratives that can capture and consolidate the population. In our discussion series, Andrei Zorin, Ekaterina Schulmann, Alexander Panchenko, and Gulnaz Sharafutdinova consider whether the Russian regime has an ideology. The Conservation Effect The dominant perception in Russia has been that the impact of sanctions is insignificant: in addition to the public optimism of officials and major CEOs, a positive attitude is widespread among the people and a significant part of the business community. SERGEY ALEKSASHENKO, OLEG BUKLEMISHEV, OLEG VYUGIN, KIRILL ROGOV and YULIA STAROSTINA discuss how sanctions actually work and how they do not, and why the country's ability to resist them maximizes its long-term losses.