In the aftermath of a new protest by the Russian opposition, which was violently repressed, several countries expressed concern about the Kremlin's behavior.
Berlin and Paris were the most vocal in condemning the more than 2,000 arrests made over two weekends by the police.
Refusal of candidacies for local elections, arrests of pacifist demonstrators and also "purges" at the top of the state ... the Kremlin multiplies worrying signals. In parallel with the demonstrations, clan struggles and resource battles also explain the proliferation of arrests of senior officials and elected officials. Week after week, reports of arrests in the higher spheres of the Russian state follow one another.
These arrests are the brand of the fourth term of Vladimir Putin, a development that concerns all the ruling elite.
For both the protesters and senior officials the Kremlin's response is the strength. For the demonstrations of these two last weekends, the fallen candidates, transformed into de facto leaders of the protest, are in prison. In the courts, the law is flouted.
The fear is to see the Kremlin reissue the scenario called "Bolotnaya", the name of the criminal case that concluded in 2012, the protests against the return of Vladimir Putin to power. At the time, around 30 people had been sentenced to up to four and a half years in prison.
Moscow must not and cannot follow this path because nothing says that bullying works in the medium term.
Then, Russia wanted to be reinstated in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which was done with the support of Paris and Berlin, the Russian power wants to be considered as a member of the European family .
The Kremlin must respect rules, and first of all respect for the rule of law.
But above all, Putin must think about the interests of the Russian elite itself.
The prospect of a chaotic transition in 2024 generates a strong tension within it. In the absence of clear rules of the game, clan and power struggles will continue in more and more violent ways.
This new nomenklatura, although accustomed to the eddies, prefers predictability and stability.
If the Russian president tries to change the constitution or interpret it to stay in power then the current protests will have been a small rehearsal before a big, very big protest.
No military adventure, no external enemy invented and fantasized will suffice to make illusion.
There is only one way out of the stalemate for Putin: respect for the Constitution.
This is valid for the local elections of September 8 as for the presidential election of 2024 if not attention to the awakening of the Russian people...