5 Questions: Timothy Frye on Russia's presidential election
March 18, 2018
On March 18, the fourth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea, Russians will go to the polls to vote for president. The outcome is not in doubt—but the way Vladimir Putin wins and the particulars of the election results will play a role in shaping Russia’s future.
“Those in Russia who might challenge Putin’s rule will scrutinize the election results for signs of weakness,” said Timothy M. Frye, Marshall Shulman Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy and Chair of Columbia’s Political Science Department. “And officials in the U.S. will examine the results as a means of navigating the deeply strained U.S.-Russia relationship—which will become only more complicated as Russia’s succession politics ramp up in the years to come.”
Frye, who also is co-director of a social science research lab at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, is writing a book about contemporary Russian politics. He believes that, “given Russia’s stagnant economy, a good bit of Putin-fatigue after 18 years in power, and increasing restrictions on political activity, the Kremlin is nervous about the election even as there is little doubt that Putin will win.”