Putin’s proposed amendments to various roles amount to something resembling an insurance policy, which suggests that the president has already decided who his successor will be, though he may not name that person for another three years.
Of the constitutional reforms put forward by Putin, what will really change a lot is the proposal to give the Russian constitution—including repressive Russian legislation—priority over international law. This violation of the usual hierarchy is nothing short of a legal revolution.
So long as Serbia does not formally recognize Kosovo’s independence, it must rely on Russia’s veto power in the UN Security Council. That dependency gives Russia a nontrivial degree of influence, both in the region and within Serbia itself.
A TV star-turned-politician is as good a new model as any for candidates for State Duma elections: someone who criticizes everyone, but then on fundamental issues will always willingly support the authorities. The Kremlin is currently studying the potential of this kind of candidate. The global trend of populists winning; actors, singers and other celebrities turning their hand to politics; and the departure of traditional parties are all things Russia has already seen, and not so long ago either. It would not be hard to return to that time.
Both Belarusian officials and U.S. presidential adviser John Bolton were quick to put out the message that the visit was more about form than content. Bolton said openly that no issues had been resolved at the meeting, but that he had not expected otherwise. Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said that no one was enticing Minsk over to any side, and that the two sides had simply agreed to keep communicating.
The new Ukrainian government’s main problem is the harsh reality awaiting it. The majority of the new ministers—progressive young idealists who have studied at Western universities, founders of successful startups—may not be sufficiently familiar with the conditions of everyday life in the country away from the post-industrial digital economy clusters. A collision with that reality could be a shock, both for the reformers themselves and for Ukrainian society, which is desperate for immediate change.