There is one political preference that Putin and tens of thousands of protesters appear to have in common – a pronounced reluctance to experience a revolution as the memories of devastating civil war of 1917-1922 run deep and reflections on current calamities in Libya and Syria are far from positive
Protesters are not impressed with this maneuvering but Putin’s core support base in the state bureaucracy is upset and disheartened. The opposition disunited as it is has captured the initiative in creating a format of negotiations with Putin setting a wide ‘round table’ and accepting Kudrin’s offer to serve as a go-betweener (Moscow echo, 31 December). The position paper for negotiations is fairly modest and aims at securing free and fair presidential elections, after which new parliamentary elections will be held without any discrimination of the opposition parties (Ezhednevny zhurnal, 30 December). Putin understands that the proposal is modeled after the ‘round table’ in Poland in 1989 and implies his peaceful capitulation, but he also remembers the narrow escape from the KGB office in Dresden surrounded by angry crowds. He is caught in the dilemma of making a fool of himself by giving up too early and losing everything by procrastinating too long, but his bad choices still matter for keeping the Russian revolution on the peaceful track.