Russia’s present is too unbalanced to discuss, and President Vladimir Putin prefers to rehash the past. That increases the temptation to talk about the distant future, to fathom where the country’s current trajectory is leading. Some smart commentators in Moscow have also given in to this temptation, and their scenarios are bleak.

The Russian ruble is down 30 percent against the dollar so far this year, causing runaway inflation — 7.13 percent since the start of the year — and a panic on the social networks. “Ruble Apocalypse Now,” trumpeted Moscow’s MK tabloid. A nationalist legislator has even revived a doomed proposal to ban the circulation of dollars in Russia. Another legislative proposal, which is much more likely to pass, imposes new taxes on small businesses. At a minimum of $130 per square meter of floor area per quarter, the taxes threaten to kill off many restaurants and hair salons, but the government desperately needs more revenue as oil prices plummet.

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