Ariel Cohen, writing on the National Interest website:
In late August, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev appointed Georgy Poltavchenko governor of St. Petersburg. Poltavchenko has served as presidential envoy to Russia’s central-administrative district since 2000. More importantly, he is a loyalist to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and a KGB veteran. He replaces Valentina Matviyenko, another Putin confidante, who has moved on to chair the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian Parliament. Sergey Mironov, the former speaker of the Federation Council, is out. All this game of musical chairs has little to do with either President Medvedev or significant democratic developments. Rather, it demonstrates how Putin is rearranging his insiders.
Stunning Failure for Putin at the Polls
In a jolting humiliation for Vladimir Putin’s “party of power” United Russia, despite relentless vote rigging the party could not muster a national majority in the last week’s regional elections. As reported by the Moscow Times, the election results are “a serious warning for the party, reflecting an increasing mood to protest in the regions,” said Alexei Makarkin, a political analyst with the Center for Political Technologies.
Even though Putin has purged every significant true opposition party from the ballot, his own party was in effect repudiated by the voters. And, as Nikolai Petrov reports: “Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is also the head of United Russia, took a more active role in Sunday’s elections he’s played in any since his own presidential election of 2000.” So the result was very clearly a personal repudiation of Putin — to the extent the cowardly, lemming-like denizens of Russia are able to achieve such a thing.