Russia began its withdrawals from Georgia a few days ahead of each deadline, according to the Sarkozy-brokered ceasefire deal, and has tried to go to the negotiating table with Georgia. They haven't made it to the same negotiating room yet--but that's okay, they tried. Russia has seen how bad PR can really hurt its export-heavy economy, and has pushed its PR pretty hard to try and return to appearing relatively innocuous.
But the Russian government is yet to learn that attacking its own people might not be great for Public Relations, either. Years after the James Bond-esque Litvinenko ordeal, as well as mysterious bullet holes in the heads of anti-government writers, the Kremlin is being accused of attempted murder once again.
French police are launching an investigation after finding toxic pellets in Karinna Moskalenko's car. Moskalenko is investigating the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, an anti-Kremlin activist (one that ended up with a bunch of holes in her head).
Should all these accusations pan out, then the Russian government is getting desperate. It's not only killing anti-government activists, but also anyone investigating the killings of these activists. Putin probably doesn't have control of the courts--else the Kremlin would unlikely continue its murder streak. But again, this is speculation.
Putin climbed the ranks of the KGB before becoming Moscow's head-of-everything, and his strongest allies are certainly in the security business. It's very little surprise that, when armed with one of the biggest hammers in Eurasia, every problem looks like a nail. Expect the hammer to keep falling.