Steve LeVine expects continued upheaval in the wake of questionable elections in Russia and Kazakhstan:
No longer can it be said with certainty that Putin can defeat any opponent in a fair fight. Whether consciously or sub-consciously, others including the Russians have absorbed courage and inspiration from the Arab Street.
Both Putin and [Kazakh President] Nazarbayev are facing a situation where the order they want to impose on their population is not in line with the amount of legitimacy they have, or with the violence they’re willing to inflict. It’s clear Nazarbayev is aware of the Arab Spring and is trying to avoid being caught by a rapidly snowballing protest movement; it is not clear, however, that there is actually a Spring-like movement in Kazakhstan. The oil workers, despite their large numbers, just haven’t been drawing the kind of broad, feet-on-the-street sympathy they’d need to to replicate the same mass movement we saw in, say, Tunisia. While there have been small protests in Almaty and Astana (a whole 12 people in Astana), they pale in comparison to previous protests over Chinese farmland leases, or even the housing crisis from a few years back. Unless there is some secret stash of Kazakhs waiting to protest who haven’t, but are open about wanting to protest at the right sign, I don’t see how you can say that there is an Arab Spring afoot. The same applies to Russia.
Earlier thoughts along these lines here.