- Autonomy for Ukraine’s church will cost Russian Orthodoxy one-third of its parishes
- The split will further split Ukrainian believers and help fuse church and state in Russia
- “Orthodox totalitarianism” in Russia would be a bitter defeat for Westernizing liberals
Recent events suggest that Russia’s political regime, forced to tackle certain traumatic reforms, has begun to lose focus.
As discussed in a previous report, the social contract, which had been the cornerstone of stability for nearly 20 years, has been broken. President Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings have gone down by a third. The September 9 local elections in 80 out of Russia’s 85 regions have shown not only a general decline in support for United Russia (nominally the country’s ruling party), but several conspicuous defeats; in four regions, runoff elections for governor will be required, which has not happened for quite a while.
The meaning and consequences of these events will soon become clear. But in the meantime, a different plot is developing. This train of events could lead to an opposite result, facilitating a new consolidation of Mr. Putin’s Russia and a hardening of its domestic and foreign policies.