Just ran into Daniel Treisman, a credentialed expert on Russian politics, who told me back when Yeltsin was president (and Treisman was a grad student) that Putin was next and that he would fix himself in power. Short version of the dialogue:
DT: Interesting times.
MK: I told you your boy Putin was an SOB.
DT: He’s always been an SOB, but he didn’t use to be delusional.
DT: After fourteen years of cautious and skilful politics, he’s lost touch with reality. I knew his control was going to end, but this week brings the end much nearer.
MK: To be replaced by …?
DT: Something closer to democracy.
From his lips to God’s ears. Daniel was right when I was optimistic, so let’s hope that he’s right now that he’s optimistic.