Russia's protesters look to have claimed their first scalp: Longtime parliament speaker Boris Gryzlov today announced that he is stepping down, despite his United Russia party's election victory. Gryzlov heads United Russia's Supreme Council, and has been Duma speaker since 2003, making him a potent symbol of Vladimir Putin's regime, Reuters explains. "I decided today to reject my mandate as a deputy," Gryzlov wrote on the party's website, saying it "would not be right" to accept a third consecutive term.
The move appears aimed at calming protesters, though it is unlikely to fully appease them. Some observers had already expected Putin to set aside Gryzlov, in an effort to set himself apart from United Russia. Putin is chairman of United Russia, but not actually a member, and has always been more popular than the party. Gryzlov, meanwhile, was a controversial figure, once famously saying that the Duma was "no place for discussions."