Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT
Feng Yujun, a professor at the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University
With the upcoming of 2018 presidential election, the strong unity in Russia since the Ukraine Crisis may be challenged. Opposition parties' activities are a reflection of Russia's unsatisfying economic conditions. The decline in quality of life and corruption of high-level officials have exacerbated ordinary people's discontent with the current government. All these indicate that Russia may enter a period of political instability.
But it is hard to predict whether Russia will see political turbulence in the near future. It is true that the opposition parties' demonstrations will lead to uncertainties for the 2018 presidential election. Putin's approval rating may decline as a result of the demonstrations. However, they would not have much impact on Putin's re-election. It is expected that Putin will win the presidential election again if he decides to remain in his position.
The opposition's activities will undermine Putin's public support and, to a large extent, put pressure on Putin's cabinet appointments and policy choices. In the next presidential election, Putin will face more obstacles. But it is impossible for Putin to lose the majority of public support.
China and Russia have set up a comprehensive strategic partnership and the two have enjoyed political, economic and security cooperation.
The development of Sino-Russian relations is in line with the interests of the two countries and won't be undermined by Russia's domestic political situation.
China hopes that Russia can remain stable and overcome the economic obstacles, and thus, guarantee the sustainable development of the bilateral relations.
Li Xing, director of the Eurasian Studies Center and a professor at the School of Government, Beijing Normal University
Recently, Russian opposition parties have launched demonstrations in cities such as St. Petersburg and Moscow, which were mostly against the incumbent Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. But these demonstrations do not indicate that the country is in political turmoil.
The opposition parties' demonstrations did not exert much influence on the country. Putin still enjoys a high approval rating. He is lauded for reuniting Russia with Crimea, fighting against corruption and taking tough international measures to protect Russia's national interests.
The protests will have some influences on Russia's 2018 presidential election, but they will not impact the results of the election. And Putin's position will not be affected.
Before every presidential election in Russia, Western countries would try to exert their influence by taking advantage of non-governmental organizations to support opposition parties. But as the Putin government has implemented a number of harsh measures against non-governmental organizations in Russia, the influences of these organizations are limited.
In addition, there is nobody in opposition parties who can match Putin in reputation and experience in governing the country. Opposition parties lack public support. It can be said that if Putin is to run for the 2018 presidential election, he will definitely win.
The Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership will not be affected by Russia's domestic politics. There are two factors stimulating the development of the bilateral relations. The external factor is that Russia and China both have to respond to pressure from Western countries. The internal factor is that economic cooperation brings benefits for the two countries. For example, Russia has actively participated in the China-initiated One Belt and One Road initiative.
In addition, developing friendly relationship is beneficial to both sides. Even if there is turmoil in Russia, it will not affect Russia's diplomacy toward China. A friendly China policy is the mainstream public opinion in Russia. With more in-depth exchanges with Russia, China will have more understanding about its neighbor to the north, and thus, contribute to better cooperation between the two countries.