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You're reading: The fight over Russia’s future

All of this is true. But when I interviewed Prokhorov in Moscow a few days ago, I realized that it missed the most important point – what Prokhorov’s candidacy, and the man himself, tells us about the battle raging today inside the Russian governing elite.

When people take to the streets to challenge their regimes, particularly in societies that had been dismissed as apathetic, the most exciting story is the protesters. Many of them are fresh faces and they can be painted in the idealistic colors of the outsider.

The opposition is certainly important – and it usually also has the virtue of being right. But the fate of the protest movement is very often decided not on the raucous streets where the opposition marches but in the grim offices where the governing establishment decides how it will respond and how it can hang on to the loot it acquired while in power.

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