RUSSIA / FSU POLITICS - Report 09 Oct 2015 by Alexey Dolinskiy

For the first time in recent history, Russia started a military operation far from its own territory in order to support Syria’s President Assad in his fight against ISIS and other armed opposition groups. The Kremlin’s goals are to support one of the few of the remaining allies, improve its negotiations power in relations with the US, increase public support for the ruling elite at home and contribute to fighting international terrorism which is seen as a dangerous threat.

Local elections in many federal entities demonstrated a new trend of local businesses using it to improve their standing in relations with governors or to support challengers against incumbents. Although the public support for leadership remains high, intra-elite competition result in tense competition.

Opposition failed the only local election it was admitted to despite channeling all the resources in a single federal entity. Inability to adjust to local agenda and include local political leaders resulted in lack of support from the local population that cannot be explained just by government’s actions.

Law enforcement widely advertise an ongoing anticorruption that resulted in the second regional governor’s arrest in 2015. However, the real reasons for the arrests largely deal with conflicts between powerful energy companies, not the actual crimes.

Russian population has not been very closely following the situation in Syria but with the start of the military operation a large part of it supported the idea of providing assistance to President Assad including by military means if they do not involve a ground operation.

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