Russia has changed vastly not only from the collapse of the USSR 20 years ago but also from the last elections in late 2007, which have established the peculiar duumvirate that leaves real power in the hands of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin leaving Medvedev to preach about ‘modernization’.
The most dramatic changes in the last four years have distorted the Russian economy, which is experiencing a crisis that combines the external shocks and internal stagnation in a unique blend. The Russian duumvirate probably doesn’t pretend but believes sincerely that it is possible to continue with its political business as usual so that the main event of the electoral season would be Putin’s speech at the United Russia congress later this month (Nezavisimaya gazeta, 2 September). The Russians, however, are not thrilled about marching towards more mature Putinism and only about a third of them think that the country is on the right track (Gazeta.ru, 25 August; Ogonyok, 8 August). The country is moving away from the outdated and false political regime as it did in the autumnal Soviet years only in different ways becuse now dynamic professionals can market their skills abroad and the truth about Potemkin sky-scrapers is only a click away. The real most important event of this autumn is probably happening somewhere in the blogosphere as an anonymous author reveals another bureaucratic fraud and asks when exactly enough is enough.