Vladimir Putin’s strengths in the face of crises in the post-Soviet space

The crises in Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Kyrgyzstan took the Kremlin by surprise. Vladimir Putin finds himself on the defensive to preserve Russian interests in the former Soviet republics and his image as a master tactician on the international stage.

In Belarus, Vladimir Poutine responded to the protest movement by supporting Alexander Lukashenko, at the risk of opposing public opinion previously considered favorable to Russia.

In Kyrgyzstan, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov declared himself “Ready to resign”. Moscow, which has a military base, supports the efforts of Omurbek Suvanaliev, the man who took control of the country’s powerful security services (GKNL), “To stabilize the situation and avoid chaos ».

In the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russia, which arms both sides, sees its room for maneuver reduced by Turkey’s play.

« These three very different crises have no direct link but they show the limits of a rigid policy that has not taken into account the evolution of societies, as well as the rise in power of other actors such as Turkey. , Iran and China in the post-Soviet space, analysis Tatiana Kastoueva-Jean, director of the Russia Center at the French Institute for International Relations (Ifri). Instead of anticipating, Moscow was content to manage the status quo and frozen conflicts with the sole aim of preventing these countries from joining alliances considered hostile. In addition, Russia is relatively poor and lacks levers. Hence his prudence and his wait-and-see attitude. »

Discrepancy between rulers and ruled

In the former Soviet republics, as in Russia, the authorities’ management of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic difficulties have exacerbated the gap between rulers and ruled. The new independent states have different trajectories, but they are less and less bound by the Soviet heritage. ” With the exception of Turkmenistan, these countries are no longer closed. New generations have access to the outside world through travel, the Internet and social networks, emphasizes Tatiana Kastoueva-Jean. In all of these countries, there is an aspiration for more transparent and less corrupt governance that respects human dignity. This is obvious in the case of Belarus. »

The Russian preponderance in its ” zone d’influence »Threatened? At the end of June, in a ballot without suspense and without opposition, Vladimir Poutine obtained, with more than 70% of the votes, a reform of the Constitution which allows him to remain in power after the end of his mandate, in 2024. In Russia, the strong man of the Kremlin remains behind in the management of the health crisis which did not produce the announced catastrophe. The population no longer has an appetite for new foreign military adventures and wants the authorities to focus on economic and social issues. Despite a strong erosion of his popularity, the president controls all the levers of power and locks the political space.

Red line in Belarus

For Putin, Russia has lost Georgia and Ukraine and there is no question of accepting in Minsk the same scenario as in Kiev. The rapprochement with the European Union and NATO remains a red line. ” Putin’s foreign policy paradigm has not changed and it is very emotional for him: to prevent the West from interfering in the sphere of Russian interests. Says Tatiana Stanovaya, a non-resident researcher at the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Therefore, the crisis in Belarus is, in his eyes, “The most important for Moscow”. “Putin considers Belarus to be part of ‘Greater Russia’ and puts pressure on Lukashenko to accept integration with a common currency and central bank”, she recalls. In Nagorno-Karabakh and Kyrgyzstan, on the other hand, Russia’s geopolitical interests are less directly threatened.. “Russia and Turkey have different interests”, adds Tatiana Stanovaya, “But that does not prevent them from finding compromises, even in very hot situations like in Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria and Libya ».

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in Stepanakert’s basements, the fragile hope of a cease-fire

REPORT – While Baku and Yerevan accuse each other of not respecting the agreement, the young men are at the front and not a child cheers up the scene.

By Régis Genté

The streets of Stepanakert are almost deserted.
The streets of Stepanakert are almost deserted. STRINGER/REUTERS

Special envoy to Stepanakert

They are only a few neighbors to draw on their cigarettes, on this Sunday noon, at the bottom of a building with dilapidated windows on the rue de Martouni, in Stepanakert, the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. Yacha, Arayik and a few others never leave the basement door, where they have been living in seclusion for twelve days. “We don’t believe in the ceasefire. It was to come into effect on Saturday at noon… but you heard: ten rockets at ten in the evening, and then another series at three or four in the morning ”, comments Arayik, a 40-year-old civil servant who has nothing to do these days but mull over regional geopolitics. He awaits his order to mobilize. Armenian side, go to the front only those who have recently completed their military service and are therefore familiar with the modern equipment that the armies of Armenia and the Republic of Artsak have obtained, as we call here the

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“Neostalinism is present in all Russian society”

INTERVIEW – In his latest book, the writer and essayist deciphers the springs of the immense popularity of Stalin, the now-acclaimed “bloodthirsty dictator”.

Writer Vladimir Fedorovsky.
Writer Vladimir Fedorovsky. OLIVIER ROLLER / Le Figaro Magazine

With his inimitable sense of the story, the successful writer returns with a colorful fresco, nourished by unpublished archives, on the “red tsar”. It also analyzes the reasons for its current popularity in Russian society. The Stalin Phenomenon (Stock Editions), which comes out this week, is the 50e book by Vladimir Fedorovsky, former diplomat and spokesperson for perestroika.

LE FIGARO. – When the Russians look back on their past and contemplate Joseph Stalin, they see in him less a bloodthirsty dictator than a leader in the tradition of the great monarchs of eternal Russia. They have not forgotten his persecutions and purges, but your book shows that with the settling of time, he first appears as a savior of the homeland. The one who defeated Nazi barbarism, which caused twenty-seven million deaths in the Soviet Union. Is this “the Stalin phenomenon”?

Vladimir FÉDOROVSKI. –This outstanding manipulator, who prided himself on being a great director of

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Does the Navalny affair sign the death of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline?

DECRYPTION – The gas pipeline, which is to link Russia and Germany directly, may not survive the poisoning of the Russian opponent. Explanations.

Almost finished, Nord Stream 2, which is to double Nord Stream 1's gas transit between Russia and Germany bypassing Ukraine, had so far been spared from sanctions lists by the Chancellery.
Almost finished, Nord Stream 2, which is to double Nord Stream 1’s gas transit between Russia and Germany bypassing Ukraine, had so far been spared from sanctions lists by the Chancellery. OLIVER DENZER/REUTERS

Angela Merkel is trying to associate Europe with a policy of sanctions against Russia which, for the moment, carefully avoids taking into consideration the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the source of all the embarrassment in Berlin.

Is the poisoning of Vladimir Putin’s main opponent the straw that broke the European camel’s back?

Apparently, yes. And the sling, natural in the countries of Eastern Europe, has spread to the two driving countries of the Union, Germany and France, which are now putting forward new ideas for sanctioning the Kremlin. After Georgia, Crimea, cyberattacks and Moscow’s geopolitical provocations in the Middle East, the Navalny affair caused an electric shock in Europe. “In Germany, the old strategy of increasing interdependence with Russia in the hope of stabilizing the country and normalizing its political regime has been routed», Explains Marc-Antoine Eyl-Mazzega, researcher at Ifri and specialist in the North issue

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Periscope N ° 22: Russia, poisoned politics

SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVE LETTER – A 360 ° look at the international scene, by Philippe Gélie.

Philippe Gelie
Philippe Gelie Le Figaro

Dear subscribers,

Murder is certainly as old as humanity, but should we look away and act as if nothing has happened when political assassination is erected as an instrument of power? Or, to be clearer: Can Vladimir Putin eliminate his opponents with impunity and continue to be treated as a respectable leader on the international stage?

Accusation. Tuesday in Vilnius (Lithuania), Emmanuel Macron clearly pointed the finger at Russia in the attempt to poison Alexeï Navalny: “This is very clearly an attempted murder on Russian soil against a leader of the Russian opposition using a chemical agent manipulated in Russia. A clarification is therefore necessary on the part of Russia within the framework of a credible and transparent investigation ”. We have to believe that the French president did not give credit to the hypothesis that Putin had submitted to him over the phone: “Navalny is a troublemaker who has faked illnesses before and could

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The Navalny affair, the ultimatum from Berlin to Moscow

► Why is Germany seizing on this affair?

With Germany assuming the rotating presidency of the European Union this semester, it seems more present in foreign policy, whether in the resolution of the Greek-Turkish conflict in the Mediterranean, on the EU-China link, or on the Belarusian crisis. The same is true with the Navalny affair. It was in Berlin that the opponent was urgently hospitalized after being poisoned. And it was Angela Merkel’s government that formally identified, after analysis, the intoxication of the Kremlin’s black beast, using a Novichok-type nerve agent, designed in Soviet times for military purposes, and access to which is in principle extremely limited.

→ READ. In Russia, Alexeï Navalny’s teams continue the political fight

The message sent to Moscow on Sunday 6 September by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is unequivocal: “Setting ultimatums does not help anyone, but if in the next few days the Russian side does not help clarify what happened, then we will have to discuss an answer with our partners”, he declared daily image, specifying that sanctions should, where appropriate, be “Targeted”.

Berlin had previously secured the support of the 27. Thursday, September 3, the head of Union diplomacy, Josep Borrell had already mentioned “Appropriate measures, including restrictive measures”. Paris and Berlin in particular plan to seize the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to “Consider the consequences”.

► How did the Kremlin react?

Moscow is trying to instill doubt about Berlin’s intention. “So far, we are not sure that Germany is not playing a double game”, replied Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, believing that Berlin was slow to respond for its part to requests from the Russian justice. “Berlin is delaying the process of the investigation it claims. Deliberately? “, she asks on Facebook.

However, Germany says it is ready to put a sizeable project in the balance: the “Nord Stream 2”, a pipeline in the process of being completed, supposed to supply Western Europe with Russian gas. Infrastructure is increasingly controversial in Germany, including in the CDU, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel whose final term will end in a year.

Two of the candidates for his succession, Friedrich Merz, and the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, Norbert Röttgen, have called for the gas pipeline project to be stopped, on pain, according to the latter. “To encourage Putin” at “To pursue its policy”.

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Putin shows his support for Lukashenko

In Sochi, the Russian president said he was convinced that his Belarusian ally, contested in the street, would resolve the crisis.

Alexander Lukachenko and Vladimir Putin, Monday in Sochi.  The Russian president has confirmed $ 1.5 billion in aid for the Belarusian economy.
Alexander Lukachenko and Vladimir Putin, Monday in Sochi. The Russian president has confirmed $ 1.5 billion in aid for the Belarusian economy. Russian Presidential Executive O/via REUTERS

A long television sequence showed Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin, before their meeting on Monday in Sochi, the first since the start of the crisis in Belarus, six weeks ago. The main thing – a long exchange in mind – then took place off camera. But the preamble was very instructive on the state of relations between the two leaders, at a crucial time for Minsk.

To Lukashenko who was storming pro-Russian niceties – a 180-degree turn in a few weeks – Putin responded by confirming his support. I am “convinced” that you will solve the crisis, the head of the Kremlin essentially told his ally, faced with an unprecedented wave of protest, encouraging him to continue on the path of constitutional reform which does not reassure the opposition. The Russian president has confirmed $ 1.5 billion in aid for the seriously damaged Belarusian economy.

“The borders of the Russian-Belarusian union”

Bilaterally, the head of the Kremlin has insisted that all

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In Irkutsk, resentment against the Kremlin “profiteers”

STORY – As the local elections approach on Sunday, the inhabitants of this city located 5,000 kilometers from Moscow do not hide their frustrations with the central power.

A man held up, on August 15, a poster indicating: “Khabarovsk, Irkutsk is with you!”, During a demonstration in support of Governor Sergei Fourgal, arrested on July 9 and replaced by a man from the Kremlin.  Every Saturday, the residents of Khabarovsk demonstrate by the thousands.
A man held up a poster on August 15 stating: “Khabarovsk, Irkutsk is with you!”, during a demonstration in support of Governor Sergei Fourgal, arrested on July 9 and replaced by a man from the Kremlin. Every Saturday, the residents of Khabarovsk demonstrate by the thousands. Dmitry Morgulis / TASS / Sipa USA / SIPA / Dmitry Morgulis / TASS / Sipa USA / SI

“Not a voice for the professional parasites sent by Moscow. They come here to stuff themselves, to steal your wealth and your forests. We will not give Baikal to the oligarchs. The people of Irkutsk want to be ruled by someone from here. It’s not just the region that’s at stake, all of Russia is watching you. ” Before the elections for the post of governor which will be held Sunday in Irkutsk, the Communist Party dispatched on the spot one of its tenors of the Duma. So, the deputy Valeri Rachkine, with his emphatic verb and his draw of tractor driver of the time of the USSR, “does the job”.

In front of the city’s sports center and a rather meager assistance of a few hundred people, with placards and red flags, the deputy explains in a few sentences all the issues of this campaign reduced to a minimum because of the Covid-19. Resentment over economic and demographic decline. Frustration with Moscow, 5,000 kilometers away, which sends “his”

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Lukashenko, inflexible in the face of protest, but weakened in front of Putin – archyde

  1. Lukashenko, inflexible in the face of protest, but weakened in front of PutinLe Figaro
  2. Belarus. Who is Stepan Svetlov, 22, the blogger who challenges Lukashenko?West France
  3. Belarus: still tens of thousands of demonstrators in Minsk on SundayRelease
  4. Demonstrations in Belarus: shotgun shot in Minsk, water cannon in BrestSputnik France
  5. Tens of thousands of protesters in Minsk, nearly 400 arrestseuronews (in French)
  6. See full coverage on Google News

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