The parliamentary elections in Russia are some 18 weeks away, but the campaign that appeared lively earlier this year has all but exhausted itself.
The deep indifference in society to the elections is not a symptom of disappointment in democracy but a rational reaction to the fact that the ruling bureaucracy is not prepared to address the real issues that are revealed, or find a solution.
The key question in transforming the deep pool of discontent into a coherent political force is about new leaders who would step in front rather than elbow aside the too familiar faces from the 1990’s like Grigory Yavlinsky, Boris Nemtsov or Mikhail Kasyanov. Speculating about where such leaders might come from, Moscow commentators look to independent business, Western universities and, not least, Russian prisons, which provide a high education of a very particular kind (Vedomosti, July 22). An answer to this question could only come as a forceful surprise. It will make Putin’s efforts at reinvigorating his stale image by unleashing a fan-club of teenage girls and Medvedev’s attempts at demonstrating loyalty to his senior partner by causing a scene in Germany about the Quadriga scandal not just petty but ridiculously pathetic. After each political implosion, experts ponder how the ruling clique could be so blind to foster its own downfall; the Russian elections on December 2011 are shaping up as a case for such examination.