After more than a decade in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin is struggling through what may be his most turbulent and difficult year in office. His economy is crumbling under the global collapse in oil prices; US and European economic sanctions are punishing his inner circle and most powerful state institutions. His military is still occupying Crimea, and there is little prospect that the shaky cease-fire in eastern Ukraine will produce a long-term solution to the conflict. The murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, just steps from the Kremlin, was a global scandal that embarrassed the regime and prompted massive marches of protest and mourning around the country.

Putin’s rule has been secure since he took office in 2000. At some point, though, his problems will become severe enough that the stability of his hold on power will become a live question.

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