Hope, and its opposite

The Power Vertical is keeping an eye on those pesky Russian mayoral elections, and there is reason to be hopeful:
In recent weeks we have seen the ruling Unified Russia party lose city halls in Murmansk and Smolensk. We've seen opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, businessman Aleksandr Lebedev, and former Bolshoi ballerina Anastasia Volochkova announce unlikely runs for Sochi's top job. And we've seen the State Duma pass a the first reading of a bill making it easier for governors to remove disobedient mayors.

But all is not coming up roses:
But as Boris Vishnevsky writes in this week's edition of "Novaya gazeta," the Kremlin is considering an even more drastic step -- de facto scrapping mayoral elections in major cities altogether:

According to our information, a discussion is currently taking place in the Kremlin about declaring the capitals of regions to be not municipalities, as now, but administrative units...Such a scheme would make it possible to appoint the mayors of Russia's biggest cities.