Russians are still pretty apolitical animals but they are gradually realizing that their passivity is contributing to the country’s stagnation and general hopelessness. When they quit the “quiet desperation” mode, they look to others who have made it farther into political territory for guidance and reassurance.
The Kremlin is chronically phobic, slipping into the acute phase when triggered by public protests. It strikes back, reflexively, seeking to intimidate and retaliate, oblivious to the law of unintended consequences.
Raiding dozens of regional offices of the opposion leader’s organization and accusing them of accepting foreign funds and money laundering could both enhance Alexey Navalny’s name recognition and instill a popular belief in the opposition’s near-supernatural powers.