Russia in Turmoil

February 21, 2012 • Volume 6, Issue 4
Is Vladimir Putin losing his iron grip?
By Jason McLure


The protests are seen as an indication that Putin (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)
Demonstrators brave sub-zero temperatures on Feb. 4, 2012, in Moscow, as well as in other Russian cities, to protest Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's leadership and demand a fair presidential election on March 4. The protests are seen as an indication that Putin, who has been in power for 12 years, is losing his tight grip on the country. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)

As Russians go to the polls on March 4 to choose a new president, there's little doubt about the outcome. Vladimir Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, is considered a shoo-in. Yet, despite years of rapid economic growth fueled by boosted oil and gas exports, Putin's efforts to extend his authoritarian rule are facing a new and destabilizing challenge. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets since December to protest pervasive corruption and alleged electoral fraud. In the past, Putin has dealt firmly with political opponents — many of whom have been exiled, imprisoned or died in mysterious circumstances. But now many are wondering if Russia's winter of protests will mark the start of a “Snow Revolution,” inspired by the “Arab Spring” movement that toppled dictators across the Middle East last year. The upheaval has strained relations with the West — as has Russia's recent support for the repressive Syrian regime — leading to questions about what lies ahead for Russia, a nuclear power and the world's second-largest oil producer.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Russia and the Soviet Union
Jan. 13, 2017  U.S.-Russia Relations
Feb. 07, 2014  Resurgent Russia
Feb. 21, 2012  Russia in Turmoil
Jun. 06, 2008  Dealing With the "New" Russia
Jun. 17, 2005  Russia and the Former Soviet Republics
Jan. 18, 2002  U.S.-Russia Relations
May 22, 1998  U.S.-Russian Relations
May 03, 1996  Russia's Political Future
Mar. 12, 1993  Aid to Russia
Jul. 12, 1991  Soviet Republics Rebel
Nov. 03, 1989  Balkanization of Eastern Europe (Again)
Feb. 14, 1986  Gorbachev's Challenge
Jan. 07, 1983  Russia Under Andropov
Feb. 19, 1982  Soviet Economic Dilemmas
Feb. 06, 1981  Russia After Détente
Feb. 04, 1977  Sino-Soviet Relations
Feb. 20, 1976  Soviet Options: 25th Party Congress
Jun. 28, 1972  Dissent in Russia
Mar. 17, 1971  Russia's Restive Consumers
Dec. 03, 1969  Kremlin Succession
Oct. 18, 1968  Czechoslovakia and European Security
Apr. 22, 1964  Changing Status of Soviet Satellites
Jan. 29, 1964  Soviet Agriculture: Record of Stagnation
Aug. 08, 1962  Jews in Soviet Russia
Jul. 16, 1958  Tito and the Soviets
Jun. 26, 1957  Soviet Economic Challenge
Aug. 29, 1956  Restive Satellites
Mar. 11, 1955  Soviet Economic Strains
Nov. 04, 1953  Russia's European Satellites
Aug. 03, 1951  Soviet Peace Offensives
Jul. 01, 1948  Russia's War Potential
Jun. 21, 1943  Evolution of Soviet Policies
Mar. 01, 1943  Soviet Russia and the Border States
Aug. 15, 1930  The Soviet Five-Year Plan
Aug. 26, 1929  The League and the Sino-Russian Dispute
Feb. 04, 1924  The Problem of Russian Recognition
Global Issues
Regional Political Affairs: Russia and the Former Soviet Union