While it is true that the 2011-2012 Russian street protests have been unprecedented in recent years in their scale — with a participation unseen since the 1990s — one may well want to take a closer look at the figures being trumpeted by Western and Russian pro-democracy observers and media (which incidentally have almost always been much higher than the official statistics from city authorities).
Should a majority of the Russian middle class truly venerate such values and the deeply-rooted intellectual ideals that Western observers tend to attribute to them, one may also wonder why there seems to have been so little display of respect and remembrance for the late wife of Mikhail Gorbachev, Raisa Gorbachova, the highly active and first university-educated First Lady of Russia. She revolutionized (if only briefly) her position in the Russian system of governance, with her involvement in children and women’s issues and cancer programs, among others.
Despite the predictions of a diminished Putin and a shaky Russia in the near future, Putin seems to be fine and to be defying those very predictions. He has certainly demonstrated that he can maintain himself at the top of a gigantic country through turbulent times and difficulties, and has proved to be a master engineer of his own destiny. He is now ready to start on the final phase of his craftily concocted comeback — or perhaps not so final should he decide to run again in 2018, which is very possible, even likely.