‘s line-of-sight pyromania — his readiness to fire anyone he sees — is simply accepted behavior, long since discounted in the political marketplace. Perhaps Russia’s problems — lawlessness, ethnic strife, a vicious circle of unpayable debts — are believed beyond the capacity of government to solve. Or perhaps this turmoil in the ministries is seen as just the trivial Brownian movement of irrelevant particles, while the real controlling forces of Russian society continue their maneuvers undisturbed.

The reaction in the West seemed curiously subdued as well. For the past year Western media have repeated that First Deputy Prime Minister