Here's a post on Publius Pundit regarding Putin's recent power play in dissolving the Russian government and appointing a new Prime Minister, and what it bodes for the near future of Russian politics. The gist:
Russian analysts widely believe that Putin will only hand over his authority in a nominal manner next year, to achieve technical compliance with the constitutional edict, and will return in four years -- perhaps with a longer presidential term having been secured by constitutional amendment. Stepping away from the forefront may offer Putin the chance to affect an even more far-reaching crackdown on civil liberties without being personally blamed for it, and Ivanov is just about the perfect person to carry out such a strategy.
On the other hand, it's obviously risky to surrender the reigns of power to anyone for any period of time, much less to a strongman capable of carrying out such a crackdown. So it may be that Putin will opt for a mere figurehead, or he may ultimately choose not to leave power at all. That is not necessarily a bleak option for Russian democracy, since it would indicate Putin believes there is enough opposition to his rule that he cannot trust anyone else to resist it.
Read the whole thing.