We're about to learn where Vladimir Putin really wants to take Russia.
We're about to see what one-man rule really looks like.
We're about to witness Putin unbound and unchained.
And this is because, until recently, Putin was basically the front man for a ruling oligarchy -- one comprised mostly of his old pals from the KGB.
But as Putin culls his old inner circle, ditching cronies like Vladimir Yakunin and Sergei Ivanov, Russia will be ruled less by a so-called "collective Putin" and more by Putin the individual.
The Kremlin leader long ago freed himself from the traditional checks and balances on executive power -- things like the legislature, the courts, and the media.
He long ago made it clear he would not be restrained by civil society.
The only thing left was his inner circle -- his Politburo -- the stakeholders in the Putin system who had his ear, who made themselves fabulously wealthy, and who relentlessly lobbied for their interests.
Now, to be sure, a cabal of like-minded cronies is a pretty imperfect restraint on the will of one man -- especially one who appears to believe he has a historic mission to restore Russia's lost greatness.
But it was a restraint nonetheless.
And as it is eliminated, we're about to see the real Vladimir Putin in action.
So hold onto your hats.