Large anti-Putin demonstrations were planned in Moscow as a Russian billionaire calls for the overthrow of his government from London. The Telegraph reports:
Terrified of any form of open opposition, the Kremlin is preparing the toughest of responses. Both marches have been banned and 9,000 anti-riot police drafted into the capital. ...
Enjoying a popularity rating just shy of 80 per cent, Mr Putin is in such a dominant position that few dare oppose him openly. Hearing nothing but the official line on their television screens and generally enjoying a greater level of prosperity than in the 1990s, the Russian population will overwhelmingly vote for whomever Mr Putin hand-picks as his successor. Most would like the president to change the constitution and stay on - which, analysts say, cannot be ruled out despite Mr Putin's insistence to the contrary.
(Update: Oppposition leader Gary Kasparov has been arrested.)
In the meantime, Britain, which needs Russia to advance its foreign policy agenda in Iran, is trying to deal with an anti-Putin billionaire who just called for the president's overthrow.
n an interview with The Guardian, Mr Berezovsky repeated a threat to bring the president down in a palace coup by bankrolling an unidentified Kremlin action. As it has done in the past, Moscow reacted furiously, calling on Britain to lift the tycoon's political asylum status and extradite him to Russia.
A crisis which apparently springs from nowhere, like events which move with unexpected rapdity are often, on closer examination, things we should have expected, had we not been distracted elsewhere. A world obsessed with fighting Global Warming and advancing the Kyoto Protocol has been largely oblivious to the drama in post-Yelstin Russia, except when people are spectacularly poisoned with radioactive substances in central London. Oil, the unrest in Central Asia, Islamic fundamentalism, the resurgence of the Russian empire, the nuclear ambitions of Teheran all run together. As we shall soon see.
The years between the First and Second World Wars are sometimes called the Long Weekend by historians. Future historians may look back on the 1990s as the years when everyone was expecting history to end. But it didn't. The alarm clocks are ringing all over the world. It's time to get up.