The Russian presidential elections were organised simply to formalise President Vladimir Putin’s next term of office. But rumours are circulating about his potential successor. As Russia’s neighbour, it is Estonia’s duty to stay abreast of the Kremlin’s complicated policies and varied scenarios.
In this issue, diplomat Rein Tammsaar writes about the elections. “The closer we get to 2024—when power should be handed over, according to the Russian constitution (officially, the incumbent president cannot run for a third consecutive term)—the more the maintenance of President Putin’s popularity and finding a successor becomes an end in itself,” writes Tammsaar. “Several observers think the variable of a successor is increasingly starting to change the behaviour of Russia’s leadership and leader.”
Marko Mihkelson, Kristi Raik and Jüri Luik comment on the subject.
Finnish journalist Tuula Koponen looks at the problems brewing in the Western Balkans. Russia is involved there too. “It is generally thought that Russia aims to keep the region as far away from the EU and NATO as possible through its activity,” writes Koponen. “Montenegro became a NATO member in the summer of 2017 despite Russia’s furious opposition, and this is why Serbia and the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Srpska) form an especially important buffer zone for Moscow.”
Diplomaatia interviews Cas Mudde, an expert on populism. “Populism is based on morals, and that creates a whole different interaction, because if you are ‘pure’ and the other person is ‘corrupt’, compromise leads to corruption of the pure. Corrupt people are not legitimate opponents, and that is an important difference,” states Mudde.
The Estonian Ambassador to Ireland, Kristi Karelsohn, looks at the influence of Brexit on Northern Ireland and the associated concerns. “The stability of the region is still fragile, and maintaining peace is not a given but requires constant, conscious work. Each serious disturbance—which Brexit definitely is—may topple what has been achieved thus far,” says the ambassador.
Observer Triin Ott writes about how various countries manage their borders. “Several states have organised their border management—the regime of crossing or controlling their borders—very differently. There are neighbouring states who cooperate closely in border management and those who want to eliminate all cross-border traffic,” writes Ott.
Marian Rikka, chief expert in the General Education Department of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, writes about policy on minorities.