In Russia, Turning Back the Clock

On Saturday, the world learned that Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s current prime minister and former president, will return to the Kremlin in May 2012.

When Mr. Putin stepped down as president in 2008, handing the responsibilities of head of state to the newly elected Dmitri A. Medvedev, it did not diminish Mr. Putin’s personal authority. But it did increase the chances that Russia would evolve into a stable democracy over time. His return in 2012 will drastically reduce those chances.

This article was originally published in The New York Times.