As much as I respect Robert Bruce Ware's knowledge of the Caucasus and Russia in general, I cannot at all accept his conclusion that Mr. Putin's strengthening of the power of the state over local crimelords will cause greater instability and unrest in local regions. The opposite is actually true.
We must in the final analysis recognize that a process of "democratization" in Russia simply did not occur in the 1990s, in spite of what our self-appointed "democracy pundits" qua "Russia experts" had decreed and publicized.
What did occur was the descent of a superpower into a political economic chaos of crminality, wherein local people throughout the country had became truly powerless in the face of the grip of powerful local crimelords.
These thugs increasingly (with Yeltsin's support) began to control all resources, cashflow of local governments, politics and culture. They even sat openly in the administrative offices of local executives, right next to the cabinets of Governors! You had to go through not one but two doors to get anything. Local citizens who objected were simply done away with. Where is the democracy in that? Even honest local politicians were thus enslaved to this criminalocracy.
By making sure that local government is acceptable to the state Mr. Putin is doing nothing more than ensuring that those local politicians will indeed have the support of the people whom he (so popularly) represents. This may not be our version of democracy, but who says that is even relevant? It is not.
We should be thankful to God that Putin does in fact know exactly what he is doing and what is best and necessary for Russia, and stop interfering before we create an even bigger mess than the one we helped foster in the 1990s.
(A Professional Cook and Bottle Washer and former Russia investor)