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Carving Up the Power Vertical

Brian Whitmore of RFE/RL talks to both Nicholas Gvosdev and Edward Lucas on the outcome of the elections:

A divided elite, analysts say, opens up the possibility for the protest movement to push harder for political and economic reform. Gvosdev notes that it also allows for independent centers of power and influence to develop in society.

“There is a sense now that the vertical of power is no longer absolute,” Gvosdev says. “[There is a sense] that you can defy the vertical of power, that you negotiate with the vertical of power. You can carve out space from it and say, ‘Here is the zone I have carved and now you have to negotiate with me.'”  (…)

The result, Lucas says, will likely be a protracted period of low-intensity struggle between Putin and his inner circle and an increasingly assertive civil society.

“I think it is going to be messy,” Lucas says. “The opposition is too weak to win. I don’t think [the authorities] have the capabilities to do a real crackdown. I don’t think the authorities can put them down. So I think we’ll have a long and inconclusive tug-of-war. The big question is: What tricks do the authorities play to try to get out of it.”