So, it's all over.
It's all over but the negotiations and the duplicity.
It's all over but the intrigue and the infighting.
It's all over but the inevitable clan warfare and the looming power struggles.
When Vladimir Putin announced his intention to seek a fourth term this week, it marked the beginning of the end of the Putin era.
Because sure, we could probably safely go out on a limb and predict that Putin will win reelection in March.
But then what?
There is a growing consensus in Moscow -- aided by persistent leaks and signals from the Kremlin -- that Putin's next term will most likely be his last.
Valery Solovei, a professor of the Moscow State Institute for International Relations, says, "This election is less about the future, than it is about the end."
Former Kremlin aide Gleb Pavlovsky says the Putin regime is entering its "terminal phase."
And since Russia has no orderly procedure for a succession, and if history is any guide, that means things are going to get very interesting in the coming years.
Recall the twilight of Boris Yeltsin's presidency, which was marked by a vicious conflict between two factions of the elite, open rebellion in the regions, a war in the North Caucasus, and a series of very suspicious apartment bombings in Moscow and other cities.
When Putin stood on the stage and addressed auto workers in Nizhny Novgorod this week, it raised the curtain on the final act of Putinism.
So let the power games begin.
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