Recent protests have undermined the legitimacy of Russian authorities and significantly weakened Putin's hold on power. Even if the protests were to unexpectedly stop, the process of chipping away at Putin's regime has been set in motion.
Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin seem to have staked their futures on Putin’s victory in the first round of the presidential elections and are working to remove any possible opponents who might be able to appeal to Putin’s electoral base.
Russia faces serious economic challenges, including a demographic crisis, corruption, weak enforcement of property rights, and over-reliance on hydrocarbons. A combination of structural political and economic reforms is required to save the country from stagnation.
Vladimir Putin’s article in the Izvestia daily demonstrates both his anxiety over the recent protests and his inability to recognize how significantly Russian society is changing.
After more than a decade in power without political competition, Vladimir Putin has lost the ability to adapt to rapidly changing conditions and has become less effective and less popular.
After a year that included the Arab Awakening, the euro crisis, Japan’s nuclear catastrophe, the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the unanticipated reaction to Russia’s recent parliamentary elections, there are many unanswered questions left for 2012.
Russian authorities see the protests as the most serious challenge to their power since taking office in 2000. The coming year will be momentous for Russian politics, with unpredictable outcomes and potentially dangerous consequences.
Russian protesters hail from a new generation who are tired of Vladimir Putin’s regime. Given Putin’s refusal to give up power and the impending presidential elections, further unrest is likely.
Fed up with a closed political system dominated by one man, Russia’s privileged class has taken to the streets to protest against Putin’s regime.
Putin’s chances of hanging onto power in Russia are good, but he will need to accept a more open and competitive electoral process to avoid further alienating those who are sympathetic to the protest movement.