The article is devoted to the current state of the discussion around transition of power in Russia in 1999-2001. The authors rely both on the patronal approach to show post-Soviet specificity and on the theory of neo-elitism to show its universal features. This transition was the point at which the highly differentiated post-Soviet elite was able to create a fragile base for integration. The article shows that it is possible to apply the theory of the elite pact to the Russian case, but the effects of the pact itself may ultimately differ from the trajectory of movement towards democracy predicted by the neo-elite theory. The trajectory deviates from the given one due to the patronal ribbon structures and the reversibility of the differentiation process. A new form of elite pact in Russia is possible, but the newborn elite coalition is doomed to be unsustainable unless a new constitutional reconsolidation follows.