The intrigue created by ambiguous statements of the two co-rulers about their joint decision-making at the right moment informed by the best interests of the country has been abruptly terminated, and Putin’s third six year-long presidential term has become a pre-determined fact of life.
As for Medvedev, he cuts a thoroughly unconvincing figure to pin any hopes on, so there is not much response to the INSOR campaign for rallying support. The post-election period is set to be troublesome as the populist budget would have to be curtailed as the new government charts the only possible course of slow growth and falling income. What the stake-holders in regime survival have to figure out now is how much higher the risks of an escalation of protests are with Putin executing the supreme authority. His decisiveness in performing the trademark “manual management” is in no doubt, but two crucial underpinnings of this “Tsarist” leadership will be missing: legitimacy and fear of repression. His belief in belonging in the Kremlin is unshakeable, but every week a new voice cries that the “national leader” is rather scantily clad. The elections will establish it for a fact, and then the tale could take different turns, but it is hard to see a happy ending.