Third-Term Thinking?

SERGEI GUNEYEV for TIME

Putin adviser Medvedev, at right, wants Russians to rally behind the President

Is Russia in danger of falling apart? Last week Dmitry Medvedev, the head of the presidential administration, warned that Russia could disappear if the political élite did not "consolidate" around President Vladimir Putin. "The disintegration of the [Soviet Union] would seem like a kindergarten in comparison," he told the magazine Expert. A day later, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov mused in the tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets about 2008, when Putin is required to step down. "I can't see anyone other than Putin" running the country, Luzhkov said.

After uprisings in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, some fear for Russia's own future....

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