The recent parliamentary elections saw the ruling United Russia party fare worse than expected, as Russian citizens expressed their frustration with perceived lawlessness and corruption in the country’s political system.
When Russians vote for the State Duma on December 4, the economy will be the critical issue for voters in a country still struggling to fully recover from the financial crisis.
Dmitry Medvedev’s job title might change after the upcoming presidential elections, but his role will stay basically the same: he is essentially a public relations director for projects undertaken by Vladimir Putin.
While Vladimir Putin is unlikely to give up power any time soon, the political and economic system he created is incapable of dealing with Russia’s rapidly changing conditions. Crises are likely unavoidable unless Russia changes and modernizes.
As Vladimir Putin prepares to return to the presidency in the 2012 elections, the prospects for Russia’s future are unclear.
Relations between the West and Russia are still shifting as the West has yet to adjust to the post-Soviet reality and Russia has not settled on its relationship with the rest of the world.
Putin's promise is simple and appealing: Stability for Russian politics, and self-confidence for the Russian nation.
Putin’s expected return to the presidency in early 2012 comes at a time of great economic uncertainty. Although Russia’s economy is stable at the moment, Russia will have to modernize in order to remain stable and competitive in the long run.
Russians should not expect modernization to be initiated from the top. Nor can a modern economy develop in Russia without reforming its political institutions, such as elections, the courts, and the law enforcement agencies.
When Vladimir Putin reclaims Russia’s helm in 2012, he will have to manage an economy that has lost its momentum and is approaching stagnation. Falling oil and gas revenues will only make his job more challenging.