Russia’s departure from quasi-democracy is beyond doubt, but it drifts rather than marches toward a debilitated and corrupt authoritarianism as Vladimir Putin’s third presidency settles into a tedious pattern. The discourse of “modernization” has been discarded and most of Dmitry Medvedev’s “innovations” have been cancelled, but Putin’s meeting with the activists of Popular Front, which was supposed to keep his support base mobilized, was distinguished only by a complete absence of a meaningful agenda (Kommersant, October 19). Alienated liberals keep arguing that Putin has made a conscious decision to progress to a mature autocracy and destroy the fledgling opposition (Vedomosti, Novaya Gazeta, October 19). In fact, however, he tries to muddle through the unexpected turmoil, seeking to bore rather than to scare the “thinking classes” and to deliver the society into a habitual torpor. Regional and local elections a week ago marked a small triumph of this non-strategy as the official candidates gained the planned victories, while the turnout in most places was below 25 percent (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Grani.ru, October 19).