So now Russia effectively has a one-party state.
The ruling United Russia party has taken control of 343 out of 450 seats in the State Duma amid record low turnout and massive reports of electoral fraud.
And pretty soon, Russia may have a new KGB.
According to a widely circulated report in Kommersant, there are plans on the table to create a new Ministry of State Security that would incorporate the Federal Security Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service, and the most of the Federal Protection Service -- effectively recreating the feared the Soviet-era secret police.
And in less than three weeks, Vladimir Putin will turn 64, the same age that Leonid Brezhnev was in 1970 as the Soviet Union was about to enter a decade of economic stagnation and intensified political repression.
And he's clearly not going anywhere anytime soon.
Hmm, a one-party state, a new KGB, and an aging leader in the Kremlin. Seems we've seen this movie before.
But while history isn't necessarily repeating itself, neither as tragedy or as farce, all the recent data points suggest that Putin is moving away from the governing model he relied on for most of his rule.
Simulated democracy, managed pluralism, and balancing bureaucratic clans are out. Monolithic rule, elite purges, and outright repression are in.
We may not be going back to that Soviet '70s Show.
But the Putin era is about to enter a new and more sinister phase.
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