Russia Monitor
Purge in Russia’s Regions as Putin Gets Rid of Political Veterans

It was only during one day (October 11) that three heads of Russian regions (Kursk Region, Zabaykalsky Krai and Republic of Bashkortostan) handed in their resignations. In two cases, the Kremlin decided to replace the incumbent with younger politicians who were supposed to achieve much better election result. For instance, governor of the Zabaykalsky Krai stepped down only after two years of office, thus paying dearly for weak results of the United Russia ruling party in the September regional elections as well as her own worsening popularity rates. Since the end of September, a total of nine governors officially decided to dismiss.

Russian Army to Add More Firepower in Kaliningrad

The shore artillery of the Baltic Fleet will aim to significantly increase its range of fire while the naval aviation has been already reinforced following the introduction of upgraded helicopters designed to fight submarines. In addition, thanks to the newly modernized Chkalovsky Airport, this military facility will be able to receive all types of heavy aircraft. Recent decision of Russia’s army command made it possible to boost its combat potential in the Kaliningrad Region in such a powerful way. Nonetheless, all aforementioned steps may eventually translate into an increase in the military threat to neighbouring NATO member states, including Poland and Lithuania, as well as to allied ships in the Baltic Sea.

Putin’s Another Bodyguard to Be Appointed Governor

According to the autumn tradition, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin dismisses some governors while appointing new ones. Nonetheless, this year’s reshuffles appear particularly important due to the fact that recent regional elections have clearly depicted problems of many of the Kremlin-backed nominees. It was only lately that President Putin dismissed the incumbents in such regions as Astrakhan, Kurgan, Lipetsk, Primorye as well as governors of the North Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria and St. Petersburg. Much attention should be paid to recent changes in Astrakhan, as the region’s new governor is Putin’s former bodyguard. And this is not the first such case.

Tatarstan’s Tatneft Sets Ambitious Goals

The management of Russia’s top oil company has approved the firm’s development strategy until 2030. Tatneft seeks to increase its overall oil production by one third; moreover, if possible, the concern aims to double its capitalization, provided that oil prices remain at their hitherto high level. Analysts have already paid attention to the fact that the Tatarstan-controlled corporation has intention to achieve its goals by increasing the efficiency of already existing assets, instead of carrying out aggressive expansion strategy.

Russia’s S-300 in Syria: Shoigu Versus Israel

Bearing in mind Putin’s long-lasting attachment to correct diplomatic relations with Israel, especially in the context of the war in Syria, one should be surprised by Moscow’s furious attack targeted at the Jewish State as Russia had blamed the Israeli air force for downing a Russian reconnaissance aircraft. There are many arguments proving that the Kremlin succumbed to the pressure from opponents of Russian-Israeli partnership, with particular regard to military cooperation between the two countries. Having dispatched an advanced S-300 air defense system in Syria, Russia may no longer take Israel’s standpoint into account, which could put an end to hope expressed by some politicians in Washington and Jerusalem, who expect Putin to reduce Iran’s military presence in Syria.

Kremlin’s Fight for Regions: New Governor Elected

In an article published only a few days ago, we referred to the inept attempt of vote-rigging that could be perceived in terms of a genuine catastrophe for Putin’s regime. The Kremlin-backed incumbent governor has undeniably failed even despite of the fact that right before the voting, he had been met with President Putin, which constituted an unarguable proof for his strong support. Russia’s President reacted quite rapidly.

Russians Dissatisfied with Putin’s Regime: Kremlin’s Worst Ratings in Five Years

Following the Kremlin’s recent loss in the second round of regional voting, the state regime needs to face yet another bad news. According to the latest polls, Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has seemingly deteriorated whereas the political activity of Russia’s Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, has been rather positively assessed by the Russians. Such results are mainly due to the fact that Putin’s image has recently suffered some important blows while Medvedev has been set aside, which appeared quite beneficial for him. Thus, it should be expected that the Kremlin would make Prime Minister a potential “victim” of citizens’ dissatisfaction. The poll was conducted by the Levada Center.

Putin’s Favorite Involved in Fraud Scandal

The second round of a regional election appeared to be disastrous for the image of Putin’s regime; in two cases, United Russia’s governors were beaten by their political opponents. In one of Russia’s regions, the hitherto governor was forced to withdraw while the ballot is supposed to be held once again some time later. But the biggest scandal erupted in Russia’s Primorsky Region whose local election commission announced the minimal victory of the incumbent governor; nonetheless, the election fraud, additionally fuelled by opposition protests, seemed blatant enough to make a decision to re-run the voting.

OPEC Rejects Trump’s Call, Russia to Wait Until November

Oil prices have recently gone up, which raised some concerns in the United States; however, President Trump’s appeal to most petroleum producers has not brought any effect yet. During a joint summit of OPEC and a few other important oil producers, including Russia, it was decided not to change current level of extraction. Nevertheless, the upcoming sanctions against Iran’s oil exports will constitute yet another factor that will eventually exert pressure on further increases in prices. Judging by Moscow’s hitherto statements, it should be expected that the country would boost its oil production closer to November.

Moscow To Prepare Serbian Intrigue

Russia’s only ally in the Western Balkans is Serbia, and – more specifically – the Serbs. It was only a few years ago that a list of Moscow’s friends contained even Montenegro and Macedonia; nonetheless, due to aggressive Russian policy, including the attempted putsch in Montenegro and a special operation in Macedonia, these countries had no longer intention to maintain their cooperation with Russia, which ultimately pushed them towards NATO and the European Union. Thus, the Serbs remain conflicted with almost all their neighbours. The Belgrade-Moscow alliance is getting stronger while the Russians have recently been trying to divide the federal state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Caspian Summit: Consequences for the Region
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