From a Historian who should know. Robert service in today’s NYT,
The opposition, having suffered from years of harassment at Mr. Putin’s hands, has not yet succeeded in taking advantage of today’s unstable situation. But the recent outburst of public protest has flummoxed Mr. Putin, as he finds that his authoritarian government lacks the pressure valves that allow liberal democracies to anticipate and alleviate expressions of discontent.
Mr. Putin can no longer take his supremacy for granted. It is not yet a revolutionary situation. After all, Mr. Putin, like Mr. Yeltsin before him, can count on the money and pork-barrel politics needed to win the presidency next year; and he has no qualms about letting the security agencies use force.
But Russians, having sleepwalked away from Communism, are awakening to the idea that if they want democracy and social justice, they need to engage in active struggle. Quiescent 20 years ago during Soviet Communism’s final days, they may at last be about to stand up for their rights.