A coalition of opposition parties won local council elections in the Russian capital and other major cities
Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia, lost congress seats in multiple local elections to a coalition of opposing parties known as the United Democrats movement. One of the districts where the opposition won is where Putin himself is registered to vote. Putin has been president of Russia three times, and he has served his country as Prime Minister in multiple occasions. He represents the status quo and one of the most conservative sectors of the country. Back in 1975, he served the KGB, the main security agency for the Soviet Union. His political trajectory started back then, and he has since added plenty bullet points to his resume. Although his popularity remains high, the fact that Moscow’s council is now lead primarily by members of opposing parties signifies a loss of power, to a certain extent.
According to the Wilson Center, a U.S. non-partisan Congress organization designed to discuss global political issues, “Russia views Latin America as a convenient environment for Moscow to address a number of items on its domestic and foreign policy agendas (…) For Russia, the key value of Latin America and the Caribbean is its geographical proximity to the United States. In the eyes of the Kremlin, it is Washington’s ‘near abroad’”. Notice that this report from the Wilson Center emphasizes on the diplomatic influence of Moscow and the Kremlin, as representatives of Russia as a whole. If the local victory of the opposition had remained in rural and isolated areas, the repercussions would not be as relevant, and they would certainly not have major influence worldwide. However, the opposition shows itself quite strong: it won over the Kremlin, and the district where Putin himself voted.
The Putin administration has often shown interest in Latin America as, basically, military access to the U.S: “In February 2014, as tensions escalated between Russia and the United States over Ukraine, the Russian government announced that it was considering agreements with Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua for access by Russian military forces to ports and airfields in those countries”, states The Cipher Brief. If the popularity and the power of the Putin administration is declining, as shown by the opposition’s recent victories, it is possible that the Russian president will need to look to international support, and he might do this in the Latin American countries that have traditionally been linked to Russia. On the other hand, perhaps the influence of the opposition will extend internationally and Putin’s popularity will also decline within the region.
However, within his country, Putin’s popularity has been overwhelming. This past June, the Pew Research Center reported that 87% of Russian population had a positive view of Putin and of his decisions while in office. This might represent a bump in the road for the current Russian administration, but it certainly is not the end of Putin.
Latin American Post | Laura Rocha Rueda