Ramzan Kadyrov’s decision to support United Russia in the 2 December Russian parliamentary election raises serious questions about the future of Grozny-Moscow relations, and the progress of Chechnya’s stabilisation
The likely direction of President Putin’s thoughts regarding his future is suddenly becoming clearer. December’s polls will be more a referendum on his policies than a parliamentary election, and is intended to be binding on whoever succeeds him.
Last month’s elections put still more political influence into the hands of the Ukraine’s oligarchs. They want a ‘liberal’ economy and political settlement, but with safeguards for their interests. Abroad, the EU, and even NATO, hold strong business attractions.
The arrest of former defence minister Irakli Okruashvili can be seen in the context of Georgian parliamentary and presidential elections due to take place at the end of next year. The episode raises doubts about the country’s stability.
Russia’s middle class has become the denominator of an urban society that knows how to enjoy itself - despite official bureaucracy, the push-and shove of the work place, and the daily struggle to get there.
The fight for seats in the Ukrainian parliament has all the ingredients of the last contest. A novel feature is that President Yushchenko looks like seeing the backing of the West, not so much against premier Yanukovich’s party, or against Russia, as against the pretensions of his ‘Orange’ rival, Yulia Tymoshenko.
By appointing Viktor Zubkov as premier, President Putin has skilfully reserved his options about the choice of a successor. But what comes next invites serious questions, including about the feasibility of strong government by any successor under the shadow of an ex-president.