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Returned Putin Beset by Challenges: Expert

Russian President Vladimir Putin faces four major challenges in his new presidential term, an expert says

By Xu Mouquan Updated May.15

Vladimir Putin's fourth term as Russian president began on May 7. Putin faces many challenges in the coming term, writes Chen Yu, an associate researcher at the Institute of Russian Studies under the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, in an opinion piece for China.org.cn

Putin will be 72 years old in 2024, and Russia's constitution does not allow someone of that age to run for the presidency. His recent remarks suggest there is little chance he will push to revise the constitution and seek another term, Chen says. Despite a reshuffle of his leadership team, his traditional backers continue to exercise power. Putin needs to find a successor that all his political allies endorse, which will be tough. 

Public loyalty to Putin is no guarantee of political stability, as March protests over corruption allegations levelled at the Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, demonstrate. Furthermore, the country’s rising cost of living, growing poverty, and hiking unemployment have dented faith in the government. Maintaining political stability will be more and more difficult. Russia’s ties with the West continue to worsen, damaging the prospects for economic growth. Its political system could experience a significant change due to efforts to find a Putin successor. 

Russia’s economic growth will be hard won. The 1.4 percent growth it posted last year is a rebound after a sharp drop in its gross domestic product. Structural problems loom large as returns from the energy exports-driven growth model wither, Chen says. 

Russia needs to adjust its foreign policy to balance its immediate and long-term interests, he argues. To assuage domestic nationalism, and lacking other policy tools, Russia often overuses strong measures. Its ties with the West are strained. This will be of no benefit long term because cooperation with the West and participation in globalization is needed for the nation's economic development.