Writing at The Weekly Standard, Contributing Editor Cathy Young surveys the state of politics in today's Russia. As she writes:
A year ago, the possibility of change and discontent seemed to be in the air; the economic crisis had signaled an abrupt crash of the relative prosperity associated with Vladimir Putin's rise to power and made a dent in public confidence in the government. There were also hopeful reports of a growing rift between Prime Minister Putin and his handpicked successor as president, Dmitry Medvedev; many analysts claimed that, with his term entering its second year, Medvedev was at last emerging from Putin's shadow and coming into his own as a real leader with a more liberal agenda.
Despite a spike in unemployment (now 9 percent) and underemployment, the financial crisis did not hit Russia nearly as hard as some had expected. Neither did a wave of mass discontent. Rather, the prevalent attitude seems to be a cynical, passive malaise: The government does not exactly inspire active loyalty or confidence, but no visible search for alternatives exists—both because the Kremlin regime has done its best to squash, cripple, and marginalize such alternatives over the past decade, and because there is little energy behind a push for change.