Post-Putin Russia Won’t Be Democratic

Yuri Kadobnov / AFP-Getty Images

Thousands, outraged over alleged election fraud, protest in Moscow, on December 10, 2011. One demonstrator holds a poster of an aged Vladimir Putin that reads: "2050 - No!"

With thousands on the streets of Moscow and a new billionaire challenger emerging against President Vladimir Putin, it looks like Russia's on the brink of a democratic uprising. But not so fast, says Paul Starobin at The New Republic. "Russian liberalism—which identifies itself with Western-style democracy—has a tepid mass following, its ranks consistently overestimated over the last twenty years by ever-hopeful Western governments, analysts, and journalists. And the current groundswell of protest, while promising on the surface, looks more like a popular rejection of a strongman who has overstayed his welcome—not like a rejection of the model of strongman rule."