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Anxious Empire: Russia Vulnerabilities Report

March 15, 2024

Vladimir Putin and his propaganda machine claim all is going well for Russia: the economy is growing and the people are content with the war. While Western resolve to confront Russia wilts, the argument goes, Putin’s resolve is only waxing stronger.

But underlying dynamics are much harder to read in a closed, authoritarian system like Russia’s than they are in an open democracy. Polling is inherently challenging in an autocracy. Some economic data sets are fudged, while others such as crime statistics are outright closed. How can one tell what’s really going on?