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This paper explores Russia’s response to Covid-19, with a focus on its implications for political freedoms and human rights across the country. It investigates the relationship between the pandemic and reinforcing authoritarianism in Russia. This paper is an in-depth case analysis that uses policy analysis and process tracing to examine Russia’s response to Covid-19 and its effects on Russian domestic politics. The study concludes that the Russian authorities have considerably abused Covid-19-related restrictive measures, not least through curtailing the freedom of assembly and expression. In doing so the Russian authorities have conveniently shielded themselves from mass protests amid constitutional amendments and upcoming legislative elections. Nevertheless, while the authoritarian practices that the Kremlin resorted to during the pandemic are not much different from those of other authoritarian regimes, they proved insufficient in curbing anti-regime dissent. This study inquires into the political repercussions of crisis management in authoritarian regimes and concludes that their authoritarian reactions lead to further crackdowns on civil liberties and political freedoms.
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