Various articles over the past months have drawn the conclusion that a Putin victory would provide clear evidence that his days were numbered. One heard similar voices in support of the Green movement in Iran. Protests are not necessarily evidence of the end of a regime. Popular discontent must go hand-in-hand with division in the elites and an unwillingness to rule without legitimacy.
Putin has quickly moved to defend his rule through unfair elections and ballot rigging. By the end of a vote which Putin won with 60%, avoiding a run-off, there were 3,500 reported instances of fraud, from subtle manipulation of voters to blatant bribery and ballot stuffing. Most of this actiivty was undertaken at a local level by municipal officials eager to keep their positions and influence by meeting the Kremlin's requirements for a winning vote.
A protest is planned for Monday in Moscow. With such outbursts and Putin's obvious move towards authoritarianism, are his current supporters happy with a backward move away from modernisation? Putin may have won the vote but his peers must be unhappy with his strategy. Wrapping himself in Russia's glory is not a substitute for stability.
Like Napoleon of the Second Empire, votes are there for the master, not the people.