~ Posted by Robert Butler, December 13th 2011
The front cover of The Economist this week shows Vladimir Putin staring through cracks in the ice. The paper says the events following the December 4th election "constitute the biggest crack in Russia’s regime since Mr Putin first came to power in late 1999". It's not every day a famous ballet provides a point of reference for political upheaval. But, as Peter Pomerantsev writes today in the London Review of Books blog, political analysts are talking about the possibility of one of the pseudo-opposition leaders "suddenly having the balls" to become a real opposition leader. This is known as "the Petrushka effect", after the straw puppet in Stravinsky’s ballet that comes to life and develops human emotions. Or, as Stravinsky put it, "a puppet suddenly endowed with life, exasperating the patience of the orchestra with diabolical cascades of arpeggi." Pomerantsev writes that the latest candidate for this role is Mikhail Prokhorov. Not that it's easy to imagine Prokhorov dancing arpeggi: he's six foot eight and owns the New Jersey Nets.