Russia and Eurasia Program Update (February 2012)
After a near decade-long hiatus, genuine uncertainty about Russia’s political future has returned. United Russia’s poor performance in the Parliamentary elections marked the first real electoral blow to Vladimir Putin since he entered the national political stage twelve years ago. The mass demonstrations in December and February in Moscow, the largest in Russia since the twilight days of the Soviet Union more than twenty years ago, revealed a middle-class opposition unsatisfied with the status quo demanding a genuine modernization of the Russian political system. Seymour Martin Lipset, one of the founding intellectual giants of modernization theory decades ago, must be smiling in heaven to see increasingly prosperous Russians desiring better governance and more say in how their country is managed. Russia may no longer be an outlier to the core precepts of modernization theory.