I enjoyed this unusual angle on Russia’s opposition movement, as seen by RFE/RL’s Brian Whitmore. His new piece up at The Power Vertical argues that the seeds of current political unrest ‘were planted during Medvedev’s presidency,’ at least partly because he was the one to plant the idea of modernisation, reform and a shift away from Putinocracy into the minds of the public in the first place. Medvedev was, of course, marketed as the moderniser. And even though Putin has been behind the scenes the entire time, the collapse of this powerful narrative, says Whitmore, has left a gap of anticipation.
Medvedev’s softer style (his Twitter account, his love for Deep Purple) and his rhetoric about modernization and reform — event though it wasn’t followed up by any real action — set expectations in society, especially among the urban middle class, that change was coming. As the professional class became accustomed to the more benevolent optics of the Medvedev presidency, it became more wedded to the idea of reform — and more allergic to a return of Putinism.