Speaking with Patt Morrison on Southern California Public Radio, Carnegie’s Matthew Rojansky argued that the governmental structure in Russia does not necessarily gravitate towards the strong man. “I don’t buy the arguments that say that somehow Russians either innately crave authoritarianism or that it is something about Russian culture or something about the Russian climate massive land empire surrounded by enemies,” said Rojansky. “Russia just hasn’t really had much time to evolve into a liberal participatory democracy - we stand 20 years from the end of the absolute communist dictatorship and that is not a very long time.”

  • Putin as a Politician and a Statesman: “Putin is perhaps a competent statesman but not a great strategist,” said Rojansky. Russia’s geopolitical position is more isolated now than it has been for a very long time. “Russia has found itself on the wrong side of the Syria issue, not just in the moral sense, but also in terms of Russia’s traditional allies, like the Arab League,” explained Rojansky.  Both on foreign policy and on domestic issues, Putin is facing some really major challenges, he concluded.
  • Russia’s Future: “Putin has been given a new chance. I think if he were a strategic thinker, not just a tactical thinker, he would view this as a chance to hear the grievances described by the protests and deliver real results,” said Rojansky. The greatest popular grievance in Russia is corruption, which is, unfortunately, such an integral feature of the system, “that it is not something I can realistically see Putin tackling,” said Rojansky. 

This interview was originally aired on Southern California Public Radio.