While the protests continue in Russia, some of the protesters will demand simply some sign of reform from President Putin.
He in turn is likely to pay lip service, announcing the implementation of reforms. However, he will only have a year to demonstrate that these are real reforms.
If nothing happens and corruption continues to mushroom under Putin’s new term, the protests will grow.
This is where it gets interesting: if Putin were to undertake real reforms, he would lose the backing of the oligarchs backing him (Deripaska, Aven, Fridman, Potanin, Alekperov, Blavatnik, etc.), as they would suddenly not find it so easy to make money and would finally be exposed to competition at home (and not simply be able to leverage the judiciary to secure the court decision they need). If this happens, then Putin would have to rely on his one key source of support – the FSB. Officers in the agency that have yet to benefit as much as they expected under Putin would probably leverage the uncertainty to wage war on the oligarchs backing Putin
As a result, the oligarchs might be forced to back a new candidate with their interests at heart. Here Prokhorov would be an ideal fit. However, the oligarchs don’t trust each other. Continued squabbling and fighting would open up the way for a new candidate, backed by the coverage of state TV.
Even if such candidate does come forward, it is unclear how he would garner much public support without reneging ties with the previous regime.
So the party in power is stuck with Putin and so real reform won’t happen.
This means that the situation could become decidedly unpleasant in 2014, in particular if the oil price were to fall…