Twenty years ago, Mikhail S. Gorbachevannounced the end of a huge global experiment. After seven decades, the Soviet Union would be dismantled, its 15 republics becoming independent countries, and capitalism replacing the planned Soviet economy. Lenin’s embalmed corpse was left undisturbed in the Red Square mausoleum in Moscow, but the cause for which he led the October 1917 revolution no longer held the affection of hundreds of millions of Russians and millions more around the world.
For two decades since, the Russian people have largely endured in silence the oppressive and corrupt system of power that ensued — until blatant irregularities in parliamentary elections earlier this month sent an estimated 50,000 people out in protest. These protesters have planned what is expected to be the biggest demonstration since the fall of Communism for Saturday in Moscow. Vladimir V. Putin, the once and future president, is at last facing trouble from the streets.