Russians Turn Against Putin

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Even if they are proven correct, however, the awakened political consciousness that this weekend’s protests represent marks a welcome development. While Russians may not be democrats-in-waiting, they are not apolitical. That is almost certainly a consequence of increased Internet penetration. The number of Internet users in Russia has grown dramatically in recent years, surging by over 20 percent in 2009 alone. That growth helps explain the surprising backlash to the elections. While the electoral fraud was not new, it was captured on the Internet like never before. Amateur videos showed officials stuffing ballots, while Facebook pages teemed with reports of repeated voting and other instances of vote rigging. Internet social media like Twitter Facebook and blogs were also critical in stoking popular outrage and fueled this weekend’s rallies. Even the Russian media was forced to take notice of the protests, something that it had never done when its monopoly on news coverage was unchallenged.

The resultant climate of growing dissent that has inspired some prominent government critics to take on Putin directly. Gold mining magnate Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, announced on Monday that he would challenge Putin for the presidency this March.  Alexei Kudrin, the former finance minister and an outspoken critic of the government’s corruption, has also said he would run. While they are guaranteed to lose, their willingness to participate is significant in itself. After all, the last prominent businessman to challenge Putin, oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, found himself in jail on trumped up charges.

Democracy has a long way to go in Russia, but the outpouring of opposition to Putin and the country’s corrupt political system in the aftermath of the latest rigged election suggests that the status quo has changed, even if only marginally. Despite Putin’s best efforts, Russian politics is becoming less predictable.

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  • Asher

    Puty Put is not so popular any more. The people are ready to take back their countries for true democracy, and throw dishonorable leaders out!

  • StephenD

    “Democracy has a long way to go in Russia, but the outpouring of opposition to Putin and the country’s corrupt political system in the aftermath of the latest rigged election suggests that the status quo has changed, even if only marginally. Despite Putin’s best efforts, Russian politics is becoming less predictable.”

    I’d like to give it a shot. Here come the Communists. Whether or not it has Putin’s face in front, it will still be the same machine behind the scenes. Communism has gone NOWHERE in Russia. If it were not so you would have had all manner of people, former officials, under lock and key. It is my understanding there is NOT ONE former USSR officer under arrest for the crimes of the state in the name of communism.

    “Everyone from liberals, to nationalists, to communists to anarchists took part [ in the protests]….”

    All to be coordinated by and for the Communists before it is all over.

  • Reader

    It's been reported that in Moscow one of the protesters' signs said "I demand recount, because I voted for other scum!"

    • StephenD

      Reader, LOL.
      THAT is about the size of it!

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Russia is in cahoots with Iran and Iran wants to destroy Israel who the Russians
    hate due to the drubbing all of the Arab armies trained and outfitted by Russia
    received at the hands of the Israeli military. Payback was promised long ago and
    it has not been forgotten. If Iran continues to move forward against Israel and
    America to a point of outright military hostilities and Russia's Putin is in trouble
    with the people in Russia the rallying cry of War will be Putin's out from his pending
    internal disaster. It is a fit and would coincide with apolitical predictions held by
    many of the faithful for centuries, things coming to life that have not been believed
    but we are witnessing it today………………………………………….William

  • David

    Well, the elections in Russia are over and the results are in: Putin- Medvedev duet are to stay in power for several more years, most likely indefinitely. Not that anyone had any doubts. It's obvious that the elections were rigged by the ruling party, United Russia. Apparently, many Russians agree with that assessment, taking to the streets to protest and complain about abuses and fraud that took place at the polls. Russian state-run television news channels wasted no time to paint the protesters in the most unfavorable way by accusing them ( among other things) of being naive and gullible, manipulated by the alleged "Western conspiracy", United Sates being the chief manipulator. In a short propaganda documentary, aired on Channel 1, viewers were presented with footage showing Serbian uprising of 1999 as well as Libyan and Egyptian revolutions, throwing in Occupy Wall Street movement for good measure. According to producers of that propaganda piece, it's all part of the sinister "plot" orchestrated by the West to peacefully overthrow governments of the above mentioned countries to somehow benefit the West and United States in general. Just how it would benefit the West is still unclear. They even managed to find and interview a retired US Army colonel (read CIA) who, allegedly, was a chief adviser to Serbian university students responsible for uprising. Ironically, the "documentary" was shown during Vladimir Putin's appearance in a TV studio answering questions from the audience. During that appearance Mr. Putin toted "stability" as one of the achievements of his reign appealing to the audience to witness economic problems that the West and United States in particular were experiencing, at one point even exclaiming: "Do you want to have unemployment like they have in the States?" Predictably, nobody, not even a journalist from "Echo Of Moscow", the only independent radio station in the whole of Russia challenged him. One wonders how Mr. Putin knows so much about unemployment in the United States having never lived, worked nor paid taxes in that country. But let us not dwell on that. Russian state-run media desperate attempts to paint the protesters as pawns manipulated by the West are clumsy at best. That's unimportant and I'm sure that many Russians (hopefully) are able to see through smoke and mirrors. What is important is that Putin and Medvedev were once again able to consolidate enormous power in their hands by appealing (in the best traditions of altruism and collectivism) to the people of Russia to sacrifice their personal freedoms for the sake of "stability" (read the State). If they were ready and willing to rig the elections, they will stop (and have stopped) at nothing. That's what really is at play here. Totalitarian regime putting itself above anything and and anyone else.