Supporters of Vladimir Putin are treating his win of the presidential election on 4 March as a foregone conclusion – and they’re probably right. Yet as the old adage goes: “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.”Even as the opposition’s protest movement in Russia continues unabated, Putin remains the most popular politician in the country. He has no strong competitor in this election – according to the latest data from the Levada-Center, Russia’s largest independent polling agency, 63 to 66% of voters who say they are coming to the polls will cast their ballot for Putin, theguardian.co.uk reports.Putin himself has warned that protest rallies following the elections could turn dangerous, because provocateurs from abroad are looking for a “sacrificial lamb” among the famous opposition members. None of this – the numbers, Putin’s own view of the situation – is all that surprising. But what makes for genuine news is that whichever way you cut it, Putin’s third term in the Kremlin is going to be difficult in an unprecedented way; because this much is clear – his government faces an inevitable decline.The opposition is growing more pragmatic. Leftwing opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov has shown willingness to work with the Communist party, whose presidential candidate, Gennady Zyuganov, is likely to come second in the polls. Udaltsov and his non-parliamentary Levy Front (Left Front) party would appear to be miles away from the pensioners who regularly turn up for Communist rallies – Udaltsov, for example, is a hardcore figure who nearly died recently when he went on a hunger strike after being illegally jailed – but Levy Front is committed to socialist ideals, and rumours have already started that Udaltsov is likely to replace the aging Zyuganov as the leader of the Communists following the elections.Putin will still win, but as history taught us, popular anger is not likely to go away. It will continue growing. A part of me thinks that’s a good thing, because this means that more people are becoming politically active. And a part of me is seriously worried about the potential for violence.