In an interview with Russia Today, Carnegie’s Matthew Rojansky argued that many in the United States see Putin as “a symbol of the past” and someone who stands “on the wrong side of history in backing Bashar Assad.” He added that the “opposition in Russia comes in many different flavors,” including what he called the “moral opposition” that opposes Putin’s system but remains reluctant to organize politically.

Turning to the protests, Rojansky explained that Putin can no longer afford to ignore this increasingly outspoken constituency and must “show them [protestors] that he has heard their voices.” Putin argues that he brought stability to Russia, but Russian citizens “realize that the work of building the Russian state and building the Russian economy was not on Putin’s back alone,” Rojansky concluded.