The well-known Russian political scientist Valery Solovey has talked a lot recently about possible political change in his country, but he was particularly emphatic in a tweet on Sunday, the day after 60,000 Russians protested on the streets of Moscow: “I have a growing feeling that this fall mass protests will enter a self-sustaining trajectory. This is even faster than I expected and what I have publicly talked about. The underbrush of mass discontent has become parched. And the government is stubbornly bringing a match to it.”
But does Solovey’s scenario—based on the premise that the Putin regime has gone too far in suppressing peaceful protestors—take into account the huge punitive machine that the Kremlin has to douse the flames it is igniting?
Not only are Putin’s loyal siloviki (those who run the “institutions of force”) showing no hesitation in unleashing their might against the democratic opposition; the rank and file…