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About Dmitri Travin

Dmitri Travin is Research Director at the European University in St. Petersburg's Centre of Modernization Studies

Articles by Dmitri Travin

This week’s front page editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

How the cookie crumbles

Vladimir Putin has long paid lip service to the notion that his government should address the problem of corruption. Is his new campaign for real, or will it be more of a shootout between corrupt officials and businessmen with more or less support from on high?

Does Putin need his parliament?

Russia's ruling party, ‘United Russia’, is significantly weaker than previously. Does Putin still need ‘his’ party or is it now more of a millstone round his neck? 

Russia, over the cuckoo’s nest

President Putin’s first 100 days have been quite dramatic, with protests becoming edgier and draconian laws being introduced in response. It might be said that events in Russia are developing along the lines of Milos Forman's great film, says Dmitri Travin

Is Russia’s protest movement a flash in the pan?

Putin is back in power and the numbers of Russians actively protesting against the regime have dwindled. Six months on, what has the protest movement achieved and does it have a future? Dmitry Travin points to huge differences of opinion in different areas of the country and among different strata of society, and concludes it all depends on the economy.

Crisis planning: what chance a ‘soft’ Putin?

In the second of his analytical articles, Dmitri Travin gives further consideration to Russia’s way forward under its new (or not so new) president, Vladimir Putin. Will he insist on keeping to his hard line or might he take the ‘soft’ option? That too is fraught with potential risk.

Crisis planning: which way forward for Putin’s regime?

The elections are over; the protests continue, though in muted form. Russia’s way forward is not solely a matter of internal politics, but closely linked with Europe’s economic problems. So far Putin has been protected by high oil prices, but he could still prove to be dangerously weak, and what then? Dmitri Travin considers the options

Why the opposition lost to Putin

As Russia's opposition comes to terms with Sunday's results, the time has come for sober reflection. The conclusions are clear, if uncomfortable: Putin is back, and he may well be in for a long time.

Putin’s charm offensive: will he moderate his course?

The first indications as to how the Russian regime might react to the country's unexpected protest movement came this Thursday, when Putin took questions during a live TV broadcast. While there was plenty of the old belligerence on show, a new approach to the country’s intellectual elite suggests that Putin has yet to make up its mind.

Russian economy: trying to please people doesn’t help

20 years ago there was all to play for: the USSR was defunct and Russia was embarking on a bright future. But the much-needed economic reforms have had patchy success. Every time they took a step forward, the government lost both popularity and its nerve. Now the Kremlin no longer has the funds to keep people sweet and another financial crisis must be a real possibility, says Dmitri Travin

Russian reforms, twenty years on

Dmitry Travin presents a new week-long series on openDemocracy Russia

Epilogue: a minister falls

The resignation of Russia's finance minister Aleksey Kudrin is a much more significant event than the Putin-Medvedev reshuffle, says Dmitry Travin. Kudrin's cool foresight was the driving force behind Russia’s economic resurgence of the early 2000s, and the main reason why the country avoided total collapse during the later Credit Crunch.

The return of the street fighter

Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin has decided that the time has come for him to return to Kremlin. oD Russia author Dmitri Travin is a native of Putin's home city of St Petersburg, and is well familiar with the conditions which shaped the Russian leader's mentality. The following article was originally published in 2008, but its contents, describing a difficult childhood on the mean streets of St Peteгsburg, serve as a useful reminder of Putin's fighting ability.

Ukraine, Belarus, Russia — family reunited?

Ukraine is busy absorbing the news that opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has been arrested under corruption charges. Most analysts consider the process to be politically motivated, and part of a strategy of power consolidation by the ruling Party of the Regions. Dmitri Travin asks if this means that “once-democratic” Ukraine has finally joined her Slavic siblings Belarus and Russia in a retreat to authoritarianism.

Matviyenko: the governor nobody wanted

The ever-shifting political landscape in Russia has been gripped by the latest turn of events. Valentina Matviyenko, Governor of St Petersburg since 2003, is apparently moving to a high-profile Moscow job (albeit one with no power). The Russian press has two possible explanations for this, but neither is the right one, says Dmitri Travin

The Kremlin, the billionaire and the liberal opposition

Businessman Mikhail Prokhorov recently became leader of the moribund party “Right Cause.” The Kremlin clearly had a hand in this and billionaires are increasingly expected to take on tasks the government finds difficult, but President Medvedev is also keen to demonstrate that liberal ideas are alive and kicking in Russia, explains Dmitry Travin.

Mr. Putin’s Crusade

In the lead-up to the 2012 Russian presidential election, conflict has erupted within the Russian ruling tandem over Libya, but can it dent Putin’s seemingly unassailable position? Dmitry Travin considers the possibilities.

What Medvedev didn’t say at Davos

The terrorist attack at Domodedovo Airport could have exempted Medvedev from going to the Davos Forum, but in the end he went. Given what he didn’t say in his keynote speech, Dmitry Travin questions if it was actually worth the effort.

Russian justice: don’t cross the Leader!

On 27 December Mikhail Khodorkovsky was found guilty of money laundering and probably faces another long stretch in prison. 4 days earlier retired colonel Vladimir Kvachkov was suddenly arrested. Examining these two, and one other, apparently dissimilar cases, Dmitry Travin finds that the threads lead back to Prime Minister Putin and perceived challenges to his power and/or interests.

Matviyenko for President? I think not!

To the amusement of the Russian media, an article appeared in Britain’s The Independent on 6 September suggesting Valentina Matviyenko, Governor of St Petersburg, might be a candidate for Russian president in 2012. St Petersburger Dmitri Travin explains why this conjecture is so wrong.

Putin in a ring of fire

Russian government attempts to deal with the heat wave and the resulting widespread forest fires have been much criticised. But Putin’s popularity rating remains high and his government seems to be more interested in keeping it that way than addressing people’s problems, explains Dmitry Travin

President Medvedev’s score at half time

Two years ago, on 7 May 2008, Dmitri Medvedev was sworn in as president, re-placing Vladimir Putin. At this mid-point of his term in office, Dmitri Travin assesses his record so far and finds no cause for cheer.

Yegor Gaidar: the reformer who died of neglect

Yegor Gaidar, architect of the radical economic reforms in Russia which followed the fall of Soviet power, died on 15 December. Dmitry Travin reflects on the achievement of a great economist and patriot who saved his country and quietly shouldered the hatred that followed.

Moscow calling! St Petersburg loses its TV

Control of St.Petersburg’s television station, once free-thinking and vibrant, has been handed to producers from Moscow. Considered by Russians to be the country’s cultural capital, it will once more become the provincial city it was in Soviet times, says Dmitry Travin.

St. Petersburg’s ‘gas-scraper’ saga: culture turns political

Gazprom's controversial decision to build a skyscraper in St. Petersburg had the support of Putin and governor Valentina Matvienko. But a recent broadside on TV suggests that broader forces of political opposition may be gathering behind this ostensibly cultural decision, comments Dmitry Travin

Will Medvedev meet Obama halfway?

There is good reason for the Kremlin to respond positively to Obama's recent bid to improve relations with Russia by stepping down anti-rocket defence installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. But realpolitik suggests they will not prevail, argues Dmitri Travin

Do Gorbachev’s clothes fit Medvedev?

The sensational appearance of an article by President Medvedev on the oppositional online site prompts Dmitri Travin to reflect on the parallel with Gorbachev's first moves towards reform of the Soviet system. Yes, but there's one small problem...

Russia’s economy – normal remedies won’t work

Why is Vladimir Putin not following the West's example and pumping cheap money into the failing Russian economy? Because he fears the fall of the ruble more than he does his political opponents

Propaganda or just good business?

Taras Bulba film 1

Soviet films were weapons of propaganda, but the pressures on a new blockbuster film like Vladimir Bortko's Taras Bulba are rather more familiar from Hollywood, in Dmitri Travin's view

Medvedev: goodbye to all that?

Dmitr Travin takes a long hard look at President Medvedev's first year in office and his "idyllic" close relationship with his Prime Minister

Russia: lurching between crises

 The current economic crisis is the fourth since Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985. Each has had common features, though the differences between them are much more important.

Russia & Ukraine: no gas, too much hot air

In a falling market, negotiations between quarrelling neighbours over the price Ukraine should pay for Russian gas were never going to be easy. Much about the story still remains unclear. What we do know is that in the long term both parties stand to lose.

Russia’s boom going pop?

How is the global economic crisis going to play out in Russia? Dmitri Travin examines the variables

Could the Soviet economy be re-established in Russia?

Recently created state corporations are now starting to play a major role in the Russian economy. Russia's economic system is becoming increasingly dependent on civil servants and the political leadership, rather than the market and competition. But Dmitri Travin believes it is premature to forecast a return to the administrative economy of the Soviet period.

Anti-Americanism and current Russian policy

  Average Russian simply thinks that his country must pursue a hard line in the fight for its place in the sun. In this penetrating overview Dmitri Travin examines the current growth of anti-Americanism and how the situation might develop in the future.
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