In Geopolitical Futures’ forecast for 2016, we stated that Russia is facing both strategic and economic problems. The country is dependent on commodity prices, which it cannot control, and the buffer zone between Russia and Europe is disintegrating. Russia’s regime depends on three factors in order to maintain power: the security services, distribution of economic resources to elites and the acquiescence of the country’s population.
We are now observing, however, a shift in the Russian population’s popular position. According to an opinion poll conducted in December by the independent Levada Center, 63 percent of Russians support an ongoing protest by truck drivers over a new road toll. In the Russian context, this is a significant development because even during the large street protests that took place in 2011-2012, support for protesters, as a percentage, fluctuated between the high 30s and low 40s, according to Levada Center polling at the time.
This shift in public op
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