After the huge demonstrations in Moscow over the weekend against the rule of Vladimir Putin, it is clear that the regime is plotting a come back. Although the bused-in supporters of the regime were heavily outnumbered by the spontaneous opposition, it is clear that the supporters of the regime are trying to respond to the growing contempt for the current government with manufactured anger against "outsiders"- chiefly Americans- who they profess to believe are seeking to undermine the return of Vladimir Putin.
Given the assistance that Moscow is offering to the brutal and discredited regime in Damascus, one could hardly blame the Americans if they did not feel well disposed towards the nihilist regime in the Kremlin, however, if anything the US appears to be desperately downplaying the challenge to the Putinista regime. Despite the veto that Russia placed on action by the United Nations, the Americans have expressed little stronger than disappointment.
Yet increasingly the government in Moscow seems to live in a twisted world of its own devising. The explosion of anger at the blatant ballot rigging in the Russian Parliamentary elections is still dismissed as the minority actions of those misguided by foreign propaganda. Putin continues to offer minimal concessions- the possibility of the return of elected governors for example- while failing to understand that the demand for greater political freedom in Russia is not simply a function of the political calculations of his -growing list- of enemies. In a series of columns in Kommersant, the Russian Prime Minister puts forward the view that Russia needs greater democracy, but that "true democracy" is essentially whatever he and his henchmen in United Russia say it is. His newly minted concern for democracy is rather undermined by his actions in undermining Russian freedom by almost every measure ever since he came to power over a decade ago.
Meanwhile the regime has opened a new front with the bizarre persecution of the dead, by reopening charges against Sergei Magnitsky - the lawyer who died in government custody. This Kafkaesque spectacle is yet another sign that the government is in complete denial about its own criminal failings.
The folly of the regime in their complete misjudgement of the national mood is ever more apparent. Although the Kremlin is set to prevent any serious rival to Putin appearing on the ballot paper next month, there is little doubt that this regime is now well past its best days. All the oil-fired prosperity is not pacifying the Russian people, indeed if anything the emergence of a new middle class is seeing yet greater demands for an end to the restrictions on political and economic freedom that have been the hallmark of the Siloviki regime.
Vladimir Putin remains too much a child of the KGB to understand- still less respond to- the growing sense of anger directed at his regime's pitiful attempts to present lies as truth. Although there is every chance that he will be returned as President, the rhetoric from the Kremlin suggests that he simply lacks the vision to be able to pilot his government through the rocky years ahead. His return to the Presidency is likely to be the beginning of even greater instability in Russia.