Vladmir Putin has been regarded by most Russians as their savior from the horrors of the kleptocracy which enveloped their nation in the aftermath of the downfall of the Soviet Union. He appeared to bring a sense of stability and organization even though it came at the destruction of the vibrant 1990s Russian democracy. But, Father Vladmir did not have many presents to leave under the trees of Russians this Christmas as millions are feeling the impact of an economic slowdown. Motorists lifted anti-Putin signs as they protested constantly rising inflation and the erosion of their purchasing power. Latest polls reveal at least 75% of Russians believe unemployment will increase and one-fourth said they either had been laid off, took pay cuts or had delays in being paid.
The Putin decision to impose higher import duties infuriated millions of Russians who want to buy foreign cars. As hundreds of thousands of Russian workers face being laid off, the anger will continue building. Perhaps, one good outcome of the crisis will be realization on the part of the Russian people they need opposition parties to challenge the current government and they will demonstrate against changes which are designed to place Putin in power for years to come.
This may not be the most joyous Noel for Father Putin, but it may be for the birth of a new democracy in Russia.