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Yesterday morning, a small group of brave Solidarity activists held a tiny protest outside the massive walls of the Kremlin in Moscow. The group used a bunch of orange helium-filled balloons to lift a banner above the ramparts, a banner containing a open challenge to the professed liberalism of President Dmitry Medvedev.

"Medvedev!," it reads. "Fire Putin! What if you really can?"

The action comes shortly after a BBC-commissioned poll this month found that just 15 percent of Russians believe Medvedev is running the show in Moscow. Twenty-seven percent said Putin is, and 41 percent said the two have divided power equally.

And the EurasiaGroup, a leading political-risk consulting firm, this week issued a paper arguing there is a 20 percent possibility that Medvedev will resign by this fall.

Leading figures within the hardline siloviki camp of the political elite -- backed by a loose coalition of United Russia deputies, embattled regional elites, and the Communist Party -- press for the ouster of top liberals such as Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin acquiesces to populist pressure and replaces these figures with political ciphers beholden to the siloviki. For President Dmitry Medvedev, the more prominent public profile that he began to assume in spring 2009 is his undoing. Ultimately, he too becomes a scapegoat and resigns in the fall. Putin retakes the Kremlin handily, jettisons the remaining liberals, and governs along the lines of the silovik establishment.

by Robert Coalson

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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