Russian President Medvedev's scorching dismissal of Moscow Mayor Luzhkov could be opening shot in a bureaucratic battle between Putin and Medevev over who will be the establishment candidate for president.
A Moscow court's ruling that curbs artistic expression, as well as fresh legislation to strengthen the KGB's successor and limit rights of public assembly, appear to some Russians to presage a broader crackdown.
Former leader Mikhail Gorbachev and others are outraged after last week's elections, which only 3 percent of Russians believed were fair, according to a poll.
Since President Obama took office, twice as many Russians report 'positive attitudes' toward the US. But skepticism continues to dominate ties between Washington and the Kremlin.