Since Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, Russia has experienced several waves of popular unrest. In 2005, senior citizens protested against a pension reform, and in 2011-2012, thousands of Muscovites demonstrated in response to an obviously fraudulent election in which Putin returned to the presidency after a brief stint as prime minister. Through it all, Putin has proven to be politically bulletproof.

But now, a new wave of protests is sweeping the country, and there are good reasons to think this time might be different. Putin has become ever more repressive and nonresponsive to public opinion. Cloistered in isolated palaces, he has become what opposition leader Alexei Navalny calls a “grandpa in his bunker.” Despite the Kremlin’s attempt on his life last year, Navalny recently released a damning documentary alleging that Putin has funneled his ill-gotten gains toward the construction of a massive secret palace on the Black Sea.

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