I think this deal looks very bad news for any sort of radical patriotic democratic non-chauvinist alignment in Russia.
In the Duma election the newly formed Unity party backed by oligarch financiers, concentrated on using its control over the media to knock out middle elements like Primakov, who had previously compromised with the Communists on a somewhat progressive national basis.
The communists look content to go into a presidential election in March with their man Zyuganov, the strongest opponent of Putin, but with absolutely no chance of winning. This shows them reconciled to a bourgeois two-party electoral system instead of building a progressive coalition with Primakov fronting the slate. It is a reformist strategy.
Then Primakov, badly wounded in the Duma election, clearly felt he had no chance of standing in the presidential election and decided to go for the speakership of the Duma. The action of the Communists in doing a deal with Putin against him looks like treachery to me.
If there was any chance of Russia managing its economy independently of the IMF I would heartily agree with Charles. That might include something as drastic as a currency board. Primakov was the man who stabilised Russia and resisted some of the IMF demands.
The IMF and the west have definitely not pulled the rug from under Putin, in the way they did under Habibie. Putin in his reshuffles has just demoted the oligarch representatives most closely associated with corruption and has left those who will work with the IMF in future.
He is almost a virtual president. Never been elected to any post before, and carefully groomed by image makers who look as if they have taken lessons from Blair and Clinton. Coming from the KGB he almost certainly believes that intelligent government should be based on intelligence about what the people think, even more than Blair and Clinton do.
Meanwhile he is fronting up a war of flagrant violation of the right to self determination of a coherent national group and he used very suspicious bombings of Russian blocks of flats to create the chauvinistic mood in the Russian population.
If anyone can forward a reasoned and principled position by the Russian Communists that explains what the hell they are doing in the face of these fascistic risks, please would they do so?