Webinar "The Legitimation Strategies of the Putin System 2020-2021: Top-down Initiatives, Political Performances and Popular Responses"

The event will be held on Zoom https://uu-se.zoom.us/j/66595052408

2020 was a year of many unexpected changes in Russian politics, including new economic realities, the crumbling of the post-Crimean consensus, and a host of constitutional and institutional rearrangements. Putin’s image changed from man of action to desk-bound zoom participant. New decentralisation in 2020 during the covid-19 crisis coincided with serious questions about state capacity and performance. The Kremlin’s rude interference brought about serious protests in Khabarovsk. 2020 has shown that the Kremlin is still committed to the geopolitical and civilizational narratives it has been working with for many years. How best to characterise the regime’s legitimation strategies 2020-21? What is the nature of the current transformation in legitimacy terms? Do recent changes mean the regime relies less on mobilising supporters and more on repression and manipulation? This seminar analyses Kremlin legitimation strategies and measures to shore up regime stability, with particular focus on the last two years.

To provide some answers to these questions, this event brings together four researchers studying political legitimacy in contemporary Russia and Eurasia from contrasting angles. Sofya du Boulay (Oxford Brookes University) presents on the conceptual approaches to the study of how authoritarian regimes in Eurasia legitimise their rule. Bo Petersson (Malmo University) considers how Putin has performed his power as a 21st century Tsar with boyars and political performance akin to a royal court, something that has only increased in 2020-21. Matthew Blackburn (Uppsala University) analyses the key state-managed PR events in 2020/2021 and examines the proactive and reactive ‘appropriate actions’ of the Kremlin on both federal and regional levels. Combining survey and focus group data, Denis Volkov (Levada Centre) will offer a fresh take on how political events 2020 were received in the population, examining the thesis of fresh polarisation between young and old based on divergences in values and media consumption patterns. Maria Lipman (PONARS Eurasia) will act as a discussant for all papers, teasing out the key questions in the analysis of regime legitimation.