A dozen years after the Soviet Union ceased to exist, Russia has completed a transition within a transition. The train is still moving, but it has arrived at a station. The country has stabilised, for the time being, as a semi-authoritarian state, with a government-directed – though not government-owned – economy. There is a wide rich-poor gap, with a very weak middle.
Although communism as an ideology has been decidedly marginalised, middle-of-the-road nationalism is certainly on the rise. This may be a disappointment for those who believed in the democratic revolution and market transformation.
Yet, this Russia strikes one as essentially ‘normal’; at least organic. There is little place for wishful thinking, but equally little expectation of an apocalypse-in- waiting, either. Under President Vladimir Putin, contrary to popular view, what you see is what you get.