Russia the Day After: A Look Toward Improved Policies, and Continued Destabilization Attempts
March 6, 2012 • 9:19AM

Russian Prime Minister and President-elect Vladimir Putin Monday received three out of his four registered opponents, Mikhail Prokhorov (independent), Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia), and Sergei Mironov (A Just Russia), to discuss working together in the State Duma and other venues after Putin assumes the Presidency in May. The fifth candidate, Communist Party leader Gennari Zyuganov, refused to attend. At a press conference today, Zyuganov reiterated the charges he made last night, that the election was dishonest, illegitimate, and opaque. Charging that the country was being run by a criminal mafia, Zyuganov said there was nothing to congratulate Putin for, because the President-elect had done nothing but to humiliate the citizenry.

In Moscow's Pushkin Square, Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, who during the campaign was a spokesman for Zyuganov, was one of the extra-parliamentary protestors who turned an authorized rally into a provocation, ending in the arrest of himself, blogger Alexei Navalny, and others. Some 15-20,000 people demonstrated in the evening under the now-customary "Honest Elections" banner. Navalny revved up the crowd by shouting "We here are the power!" Gorbachov ally Vladimir Ryzhkov of the unregistered Parnas party led chants of "Russia without Putin," proclaimed "Their elections are a farce, their power is illegitimate," and announced a larger rally to be organized for Saturday, March 10.

When the rally ended, Udaltsov urged people to stay. Around 1,000 did. After an hour, according to Russian media reports, the OMON police special forces started demanding that the crowd disperse. They then used night-sticks to enforce the order, and arrested Udaltsov, Navalny and other resisters.

First Channel TV reported that an even more serious provocation had been in the making: a young man was arrested with explosives he was alleged to have been planning to use for a bombing in Manezh Square near the Kremlin today or tomorrow.

Not only in the streets, but in political circles, Russians are looking ahead to possible major changes in the near future. Ex-Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin today blogged that he expected the incoming government under Putin to bring major personnel changes in the economic policy area, which would be bad from Kudrin's (monetarist, London-approved) point of view.