Paper - Harvard Business School

Russia: Tribulations and Toska

| March 28, 2016


Give the government twenty years of stability and you will no longer recognize Russia.
-Pyotr Stolypin, Russian statesman (1906-1911).

Vladimir Putin ushered in the New Year with "a toast to the prosperity and wellbeing of Russia," welcoming it, "with joy, hope and excitement, believing in the best." It was Putin's fourth year of the third term of his presidency and 17th year in power as either prime minister or president. The model of Russia on the eve of 2016 was very much his own creation: energy-driven growth as a pillar of political stability that in turn would ensure stable economic development. Notwithstanding the perfunctory expression of hope and optimism, as is customary for a New Year's address by a head of state, Putin's model was breaking under the strength of external shocks, consequent grim economic outlook, and corollary risk of internal volatility. Putin acknowledged as much in his toast, alluding to the anxieties of Russians on the eve of 2016 with appeals to resilience and references to difficult times. Onliquely, Putin recognized the imminent challenges but exhorted the people to meet them "with dignity," just like the generation that endured the WWII, thanks to "unity in difficult times and their willpower." The president praised the willpower, determination, and staunchness of "service members who are fighting international terrorism, defending Russia's national interests at distant frontiers"-- another group whose qualities every Russian should try to emulate.

Putin's third presidential term started in May of 2012. He had already served two consecutive terms in 2000-2008, switching places with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in 2008-2012. Putin's first two terms composed a period of sustained growth, which provided empirical ammunition against criticism of his model. The freshman year of Medvedev's presidency coincided with the onset of a global economic crisis that exposed Putin's model to its first serious test.

About This Paper

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on as he delivers his annual New Year address to the nation in Moscow, Russia, December 31, 2015.

Russia: Tribulations and Toska
For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Abdelal, Rawi, Morena Skalamera and Marat Atnashev. "Russia: Tribulations and Toska." Case Study, Harvard Business School, March 28, 2016.

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