Later this week Moscow will go to the polls to choose a new mayor in an election for control of a city that is both the centre of the Russian political economy and not quite like anywhere else in Russian politics. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, appointed the current mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, and he released from jail his chief critic - charismatic lawyer and anti-corruption blogger, Alexey Navalny. The fact that Putin has chosen to stage a showdown between a long-time critic and a long-time Kremlin loyalist may be further evidence of his power to pull all the strings in Russia, but it is also a serious concession to Muscovites’ expectations of a different kind of politics in Russia. It may be a sign of things to come.
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