Abstract: By most accounts, the most important political space in the world's largest country is the four inches between Vladimir Putin’s ears. In a new book, Graeme Robertson and Sam Greene challenge the idea that Putin has shaped Russia in his own image, arguing instead that it his power flows from a particular relationship he has developed with his citizens -- and that his citizens have developed with one another. The result is a view of Russian politics as something much more fluid and fragile than we generally understand, a shifting landscape in which Putin's power -- and that of whoever succeeds him -- is continually negotiated and renegotiated between the Kremlin and the public, even in the confines of an increasingly authoritarian state. In this discussion, Greene and Robertson explore the social and political imperatives, challenges and dilemmas Putin and Russia face as he rounds out his fourth term and wonders about a fifth.
Sam Greene is reader in Russian politics and Director of the Russia Institute at King's College London. His research focuses on the relationships between citizens and the state in Russia, and in societies experiencing social, economic and political transformation more broadly. His first book, Moscow in Movement: Power and Opposition in Putin's Russia, was published by Stanford University Press in 2014. More recently, he is co-author with Graeme Robertson of Putin v the People: The Perilous Politics of a Divided Russia, published by Yale University Press in 2019. He also serves as Associate Fellow in the Russian and Eurasian Programme of the International Institute for Security Studies and a Visiting Professor at the UK Defence Academy.
Graeme Robertson is a Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Director of the Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies. His work focuses on political protest and regime support in authoritarian regimes.
Graeme’s new book (with Samuel A. Greene) is Putin v. The People, published by Yale University Press in June 2019. The book presents a fresh new look at the social bases of support for and opposition to authoritarian rule in Russia. Graeme is also the author of Revolution and Reform in Ukraine, published by PONARS Eurasia (with Silviya Nitsova and Grigore Pop-Eleches) and The Politics of Protest in Hybrid Regimes: Managing Dissent in Post-Communist Russia, published by Cambridge University Press. He has published articles in many academic journals including the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics and the British Journal of Political Science, as well as contributing regularly to the media on Russia and Ukraine. Graeme currently serves as the Associate Editor for Comparative Politics for the American Journal of Political Science.