ISSUE 1-2012
Mykola Riabchuk
Екатерина Шинкарук Григорий Михайлов
Владимир Воронов
Петр Мареш
Pavel Vitek Петр Грусс

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles and/or discussions are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views or positions of the publisher.

By Pavel Vitek | Researcher in Politics, the Czech Republic | Issue 1, 2012

Nothing new under the Kremlins walls - it is possible to say that after the presidential elections in Russia. Vladimir Putin is coming back to the Kremlin. Dmitry Medvedev, who docilely carried out a preliminarily prepared plan, is coming back to the government.

Hardly anybody doubted that Putin would win in the first round. At the same time there was no doubt that this goal would be achieved by various dubious methods, because a managed democracy requires a victory of the leader in the first round. Each different result could be interpreted as a loss of legitimacy of the regime represented by him. Therefore Yavlinsky was not allowed to run for President and the campaign in the official mass media had only one hero. Cheating during voting is in Russia something very natural.

Maybe the final result, more than 63%, could be a certain surprise because Putin was expected to be less greedy and his results would be about 55%. Such a result can be understood as a declaration of the war on the civil society. No conclusions were drawn from the manipulated parliamentary elections, and Putin demonstrated that he would rely on force to deal with the unsatisfied part of Russian society.

On the other hand, when Putin & Comp. discussed the results of the upcoming elections they could arrive at the conclusion that better, and therefore higher, results would be a more than adequate answer to the expected protests. That did not occur and the results had to be confirmed on the Moscow streets in the form of unprecedented military exercises.

The crying Putin declared to the world that he had won in fair elections. If he had wanted to be taken in a more serious way, he should have had to be more cautious and prevent a "socialist competition" among the local boyars. Their diligence rendered their “tsar” poor service and made him laughable. In particularly, the results gifted to Putin by Ramzan Kadyrov should make him think. Is it love or mockery?

The results of the elections, however manipulated, have shown that the provinces like Putin more than Moscow or his native St. Petersburg, which should be another reason to think about it. This is not anything strange. It is in accord with a good Russian tradition but it is necessary to know that revolution used to start in capitals.

The whole system that was developed to preserve power for Putin and his clan as well as the means for its realization has led Russia to a dangerous crossroads. The growing fatigue with Putin, the weak ability to compromise with his authoritarian tendencies, his expected inability to meet the promises made before the election, and the inevitable problems with an economy addicted to the export of raw materials will sooner or later cause his fall or the transformation of Russia into a true dictatorship. The first possibility is more likely, and it can happen during his new first term.

Putins more or less forced withdrawal from the Kremlin would not be anything pleasant for the surrounding world. It is possible to expect that his successor could be even worse than Putin, because he will come to power on the wave of the escalated dissatisfaction with Putin´s regime. Any Russian revolution used to be very merciless and is used to give an opportunity for very extreme forces, particularly if the democratic ones are very weak.

Such a development of the situation would be an imperishable "merit" of Vladimir Putin, who provoked extremist forces in the country and did not manage to hold a dialog with the Russian middle class and the civil society as a whole. Putins return to the Kremlin provides Russia with only a tiny bit of hope for change. Simply put, you can't teach an old dog..., particularly when he thinks that it is not necessary and to bare his teeth is sufficient.

If the development is not so dangerous, there is a certain possibility that a new democratic opposition will arise. Its germ is visible on todays squares and streets of Russian cities. However, its first new leaders should also realize that the old dogs, like Nemtsov or Kasyanov, are not very teachable. They missed their chance to change Russia and they have shared the responsibility for the fact that now Russians are forced to struggle for basic democratic rights on the streets.

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