Suddenly, something in the mysterious and unpredictable realm of Russia looks not merely predictable but destined to happen. It is almost embarrassing to analysts, who are used to the bubbling contingency and the byzantine, robust action of Yeltsin's decade. Mr. Putin is considered unstoppable in his march to the Russian presidency by virtually everyone, significantly including his opponents. It is indeed the ultimate degree of power when challenges seem improbable to the potential challengers themselves.
The big question now is what can a ruler endowed with such hegemonic powers do? But first we must address the nasty speculations surrounding the miracle of Putin's political birth. […]