Now that I have given my response to Frolov’s questions, I would like to hi-light what Stephen Blank has to say:
I cannot speak for public opinion, but this fraud was wholly unnecessary if we are to believe the claim that Medvedev and Putin are so popular. If that were the case, there would be no need for fraud. Undoubtedly, the case in question points to bureaucratic guidance from above, with superiors setting targets for lower officials, etc. But it also attests to the cynicism of the elites and to the fallaciousness if not mendacity of the utter nonsense we hear about Medvedev’s liberalism.
Alexander II’s reformers were more liberal and they were very much statist. Ultimately, this tells us that the ruling system in Russia is brittle, that the elites know it and will do anything to stay in power regardless of the consequences. They don’t care how it looks.
Medvedev, for all of his speeches, is still afraid to do anything concrete in the way of reforms. Still, I do think that we can see signs of the inertia of the Putin system (in the sense of a system moving along the same line it has previously followed until it can go no further). No doubt other analysts and regime flacks will come up with all kinds of justifications for the fact that we have here a perfect likeness of, in Max Weber’s terms, “pseudo-Schienkonstitutionalismus,” and this shows that despite everything that has happened in Russia, it has still to get beyond what Russian historians used to call the “June 3 System,” with reference to Nicholas II’s forcible dispersal of the first two Dumas in 1906 to 07. If Tsarism is the best Russia can do, we are in for a very dangerous period.