A week of massive demonstrations protesting rigged parliamentary elections failed to suggest to any journalist I heard or read that Vladimir Putin’s hold on Russia may be weakening. Finally, the BBC dares to speculate that he may not be elected President next spring.
How could anyone have thought Russian politics would continue as usual when that usually docile population is out in the streets by the thousands every day, risking police brutality?
The man Putin put in his place when his first two terms as president ran out, Dmitry Medvedev, has ordered an inquiry. However much he may have ruled in Putin’s shadow, Medvedev is as different from his mentor as could be. Born into a family of academics, Medvedev taught law at St. Petersburg University before becoming involved in politics. I happen to have attended a small conference in Strasbourg in which a young man from St Petersburg who was working closely with the innovative mayor, Anatoly Sobchak was remarked for his shyness.
The next few months are likely to see a battle for power between the academic and the KGB head. Most of that battle will not be in the news, especially in the United States. Yet it will be a pendant to the American Presidential election, which will also pit a law professor against, probably, a hawk, at a time when the 99% are coalescing around the world.