Well, not so fast according to a story by politics editor Aleksandra Samarina in today's "Nezavisimaya gazeta."
Aleksei Kudrin's resignation as finance minister and an ongoing low-intensity clan war between the Prosecutor General's Office and the Investigative Committee illustrate that the ruling elite is as jittery as ever.
Here's Andrei Ryabov of the Moscow Carnegie Center as cited by "Nezavisimaya gazeta":
Everyone expected the United Russia convention to shed some light on the future and bring in certainty with regard to it. The convention did so, but only in connection with the very pinnacle of political power. Everyone knows who will be the president and who, the premier, but that is all. Whatever is to happen to anyone else is not known. On the contrary, the convention bred uncertainty. Not one of the major political players at this point can be sure of his or her future. Aleksei Kudrin's resignation is quite symptomatic from this standpoint... No wonder the survival instinct kicks in. People understand after all that it is only through the weakening of their adversaries that they can better their own chances.
Boris Makarenko of the Institute of Contemporary Development has a similar take:
A weakened lame-duck president, a dispirited technocratic faction in the elite that opposed Putin's return, and fears that the pro-Putin siloviki clan will be eager to move on its bureaucratic enemies are also no doubt fraying nerves.
This could be temporary as the 2012 decision was announced barely three weeks ago. Moreover, some degree of factionalism and clan struggles are, after all, regular features of Russian politics. But if Putin (and to an extent Medvedev) can't find a way to calm down and unify the ruling elite, then out-of-control factionalism could also turn into a big problem.
-- Brian Whitmore