ERR in Moscow: Greatest threat to Putin's plans is discontent among the elite ({{commentsTotal}})

Although Russian president Vladimir Putin's annual speech was welcomed by laudatory echoes from the state media, even pro-Kremlin analysts admit that the greatest threat to Putin's plans comes from the growing feelings of dissatisfaction among the Russian elite, reported ERR's correspondent in Moscow, Neeme Raud.

"The main factor that may interfere [with all initiatives] is the elite's problem with the financial crisis that has lowered their incomes and limited options for earning extra money. The sanctions, as well, stops some from travelling abroad and the exchange rate of dollar and euro is having an impact on the life of, if not the high elite, then the so-called second echelon for sure," said Pavel Danilin, the head of TASS's Political Analysis Center.

Whereas many applauded Putin's call last week for national mobilization, some critics compared the speech to those delivered in Kremlin a few decades ago. Putin's reference to overcoming a temporary low - the era of Yeltsin being seen as one of weakness - led some analysts to believe that Russia is once again the state it tried to banish to the depths of the history.

"It was a very Soviet message. First he talked about the international situation, then about a few concerns that have to be dealt with and finally he made an appeal that was very much in the style of 'The targets are set, the objectives are clear. Let's get to work, comrades!'," said political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin.

Oreshkin said that most of the targets will not be met, as Russia lacks suitable mechanisms for it. "The main objective is to explain the Federation's difficult situation to the public and make people rally around the beloved authority. A Soviet approach at its very core."

In Oreshkin's opinion, what was not mentioned in the speech trumps its actual content.

"What he said is not important - it was all known in advance, uninteresting and trivial - it's what he didn't say. Not once did he talk about corruption, although it is one of Russia's fundamental problems. He did not speak of the judicial reform, without which financial capital is unlikely to return."

Neither did he say anything about Donetsk and Luhansk. "He dodged the question, speaking of Crimea instead," Oreshkin said.



Siim Kallas.

Interview: Siim Kallas on ambitions, Estonian politics, and EU presidency

Following the local elections in October this year, Reform Party founder, former prime minister, EU commissioner, and presidential candidate Siim Kallas took on the job of municipal mayor of Viimsi, a community on the outskirts of Tallinn. In his interview with ERR's Toomas Sildam, Kallas talks about local government, his party, the EU presidency, and perspectives in Estonian politics.

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