Ex-Kremlin think tank predicts political turmoil in Russia

By Andrei Skvarsky.

A think tank that used to be a strategic economic planning centre for the Kremlin argues that “growing discontent” with President Vladimir Putin and his government is likely to precipitate mounting nationwide public unrest.

The forecast comes in a report released last week by the Centre for Strategic Research (CSR), a Moscow-based non-profit foundation set up in 1999 to hammer out the economic strategy for Putin’s first presidential term.

The report, based on extensive opinion polls but dismissed by Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as a product of “absolutely groundless pessimism”, had been commissioned by the Civil Initiatives Committee, a research group headed by former finance minister Alexei Kudrin.

Its release almost coincided in time with the World Bank’s publication of updated Ease of Doing Business rankings of countries, which moved Russia to 112th from 120th place.

The CSR had predicted mass protests that broke out in Russia after parliamentary elections in December last year.

German Gref, today’s chief executive of Sberbank, was involved in the CSR’s effort of drafting Putin’s first economic programme and was economics minister from 2000 to 2007. Elvira Nabiullina, who replaced Gref in his ministerial job in 2007, headed the CSR from 2003 to 2005.

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