This essay chronicles Vladimir Putin’s successful efforts to transform Russia from the flawed democracy of the 1990s to the fully fledged authoritarian regime it is today, with falsified elections; censorship of the major media outlets; and repression of the opposition. Yet there are growing numbers of Russians—especially among the young generation—who are prepared to stand up against autocracy and corruption, as demonstrated by the nationwide protests that began in 2017. In the author’s view, the trends (and the demographics) are not in the Kremlin’s favor, and this emerging movement will eventually succeed in bringing the rule of law and democracy to Russia. It is important for Western leaders to maintain dialogue with Russian society and to avoid equating Russia with the current regime.
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