It has been just about a year since Vladimir Putin 2.0 was inaugurated in the Kremlin as Russian president. He was succeeding his own interregnum successor Prime Minister Dmitrii Medvedev and the liberalization policy carried out under the Medvedev-Putin tandem, referred to be the present author first as a ‘thaw’ and then with deepening liberalization, ‘perestroika 2.0.
Perestroika 2.0 left several tasks unresolved: democratization, market liberalization, and political instability characterized by opposition mobilization, splitting within the Putin elite, and a malaise among Putin’s constituency within the population. With Putin’s return to the Kremlin, democratization and market liberalization were no longer near the top of the agenda; stabilizing politics moved unequically to the top. This does not mean that democratization and marketization are off limits for the mid- to long-term, but rather that they will not be pursued as ends in and of themselves and without pressure from below exerted by the opposition or external circumstances.
With political stabilization at the top of the agenda, Putin needed to accomplish three tasks: weaken the street opposition, consolidate the elite, and re-mobilize his popular constituencies.