Yet another rotation, with a federal minister’s going into the Presidential Administration and a regional governor’s becoming a federal minister, shows that Putin is firmly standing by his principle of rewarding loyalty above all else, and even more so if there is external pressure. Even certain performance drawbacks are acceptable as long as Putin’s most important projects are taken care of, and there is no evidence of malicious intent.
Moscow is attempting to scale back the conflict in Eastern Ukraine to deny the West reasons for imposing tighter sanctions and supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine. Therefore, Moscow is trying to prevent the separatists from violating the Minsk agreement, yet supports them so they are ready to resume further expansion if there is any opportunity to do so without engaging in full-scale warfare.
Russia re-established a federal agency for interethnic relations that Putin had dissolved in his first term as President, with a former FSB special operations officer taking the place of its leader. The new agency is to develop national interethnic relations, including with ethnic Russians internationally.
Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov’s murder just footsteps away from the Kremlin, and the alleged involved of Chechen law enforcement, sparked a new round of debates as to whether Chechen authorities act as part of the Russian Federation. Federal law enforcement agencies seem unable to manage the situation, and the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov is openly demonstrating his autonomy, as well as his personal relationship with President Putin as a foundation of that autonomy.
Despite economic challenges, Russians report the highest level of happiness in the country’s history. Eighty percent of the population say they are definitely happy or rather happy.
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