Saturday, December 3, 2011

Duma elections tomorrow

Some time ago I was warned by a Russian friend who goes back and forth (quite legitimately) that the Duma elections may well be very interesting. Until then I had not paid any attention to them, arguing that as the only opposition to United Russia that is allowed are the Communists, little good will come out of the Duma elections. However, this was someone whose opinion was worth paying attention to, so I did. Sure enough, rumours are coming out of the country that neither Putin nor United Russia are as popular as they were (and they never were all that popular but there were quite literally no alternatives).
Here is an interesting analysis from the Washington Times.
The hardening of the public’s attitude about Mr. Putin was on display at a sports event in Moscow in mid-November, when at least one section of the crowd appeared to boo him.

Alexei Navalny, an anti-graft activist and widely read blogger, said the jeers and catcalls signal “the end of an era.” He is a highly influential figure in an increasingly politicized Russian Internet community, and coined United Russia’s popular, unofficial nickname: “the party of swindlers and thieves.”

Dissent has been growing about a number of issues, such as suspected mass corruption by United Russia officials and the prospect of two more terms in the Kremlin for Mr. Putin, who will seek a third presidential election next year after being constitutionally bound to step down as president in 2008.

Opposition leader Grigory Yavlinsky, head of the liberal Yabloko party, has suggested that the sudden spark of opposition to Mr. Putin’s rule represents a “deep historical shift” in the nation’s mindset.

Others agree. “People are fed up with Putin,” senior Yabloko official Galina Mikhaleva told The Washington Times. “State-run TV earlier zombified the people, but the Internet has played a huge role in waking them up.
With Putin being already appointed to be President, it is only through the Duma elections that people can express their feelings of antagonism, if these are strong enough. The results should be interesting.

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