The year 2011 ended in Russia with a perfect storm that turned the country’s politics on its head.
Angered by official corruption and impunity, and sparked into action by widespread allegations of vote fraud in December’s parliamentary elections, civil society woke up from its long slumber and found its voice -- powered by a newly politically conscious urban middle class.
The increased confidence and assertiveness of the urban professional class, its newfound ability to organize over the Internet, and a global atmosphere of protest also contributed to a combustible mix.
Adding to the general zeitgeist of change, splits are becoming increasingly apparent among the ruling elite, which appears more divided than anytime in recent memory about the country’s political direction.
So what can we expect for Russia in 2012?
In the latest edition of the Power Vertical Podcast, I speak to longtime Russia-watcher Mark Galeotti, professor of global affairs at New York University and author of the column "Siloviks and Scoundrels" in "Moscow News." In a wide-ranging talk, we discuss the authorities' response to the protest movement, emerging splits within the elite, and the role of the security services in the new political environment.