December 2011 protests in Russia, the largest after the collapse of the Soviet Union, shattered the status quo that had taken shape over the last decade and signaled that Russia is entering turbulent waters. Russia found itself caught in a trap: the 2011–2012 elections perpetuate a personalized power system that became the source of decay. The top-down rule and its “personificator” – Vladimir Putin – are already rejected by the most dynamic and educated urban population. However, no clear political alternative with a broad social support has yet emerged to replace the old Russian matrix.
In terms of strategic significance, Putin’s regime will most certainly unravel in the fore-seeable perspective. But it is hard to predict what consequences this will have: the system’s disintegration and even collapse of the state, growing rot and atrophy, or the last grasp in the life of personalized power and transformation that will set Russia on a new foundation. One thing is apparent: transformation will not happen in the form of reform from above and within, and if it does occur, it will be the result of the deepening crisis and society’s pressure.