Russian Elections

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16024938

Exit polls in Russia's parliamentary elections point to a sharp drop in support for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16025648
Vladimir Putin is facing a slump in popularity that he has not experienced since the Kursk submarine disaster of 2000.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/04/us-russia-election-idUSTRE7B019B20111204

I am bit shocked to see these stories coming out of Russia.

This one was from few weeks ago and there was lots of ambiguity.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15869047

Sometimes key moments in politics happen in the strangest of places and at unexpected times. Some Russia analysts are now asking whether a martial arts fight in Moscow's Olimpisky Arena last Sunday night was one of those moments.
I would be displeased to see Putin going weak but this might be another very interesting even to happen in this very interesting year of 2011.
 

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16042797
Several thousand people have taken to the streets of Moscow shouting "Down with Putin" as international observers in Russia's parliamentary elections speak of flagrant violations.
There are signs of few disturbances while United Russia managed to secure a slim majority.
 
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Second day of troubles:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/07/us-russia-election-idUSTRE7B019B20111207

But many Russian political experts have dismissed suggestions that Putin could face an uprising in a country which has little tradition of major street protests, despite the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, and where dissent has often been crushed.
Monday's rally in Moscow attracted about 5,000 people -- a large number in a country where many protests are not allowed and demonstrators are often quickly hauled away by police. Police detained about 300 people after Monday's protest.
It seems like Russia is well prepared not to come in the world headlines.
 
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The unrest is gaining momentum.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16122524

Thousands of people have attended the biggest anti-government rally in the Russian capital Moscow since the fall of the Soviet Union.

As many as 50,000 people gathered on an island near the Kremlin to condemn alleged ballot-rigging in parliamentary elections and demand a re-run.
 
turbo
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I am a bit perturbed by the US media's obsession with Russia as a totalitarian state. How many "occupy" protesters have been arrested? How many Russian protesters? I'm not a fan of Putin, but we should have some balance in our media, especially in the "liberal" media.
 
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OWS: 5120 over 62 days = 82 per day

Russia: more 300 on the first day (just Moscow and St. Petersburg); I have no information on later days or other cities.
 
AlephZero
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OWS: 5120 over 62 days = 82 per day

Russia: more 300 on the first day (just Moscow and St. Petersburg); I have no information on later days or other cities.
You can't conclude much from the raw numbers, since any public gathering in Russia is illegal unless it has been authorized, and the "standard" penalty following arrest (according to the UK Financial Times newspaper) is a 15 day jail sentence.

Perhaps it's more relevant that the weekend's protest in Moscow WAS authorized, though confined by being restricted to an island, and the ratio of police and riot troops to demonstrators was about 1:1 (50,000 of each). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16122524

The FT also reported earlier last week that about 30,000 members of a pro-Kremlin youth organization (Nashi) had been bussed into Moscow, as an "unofficial" deterrent.
 
MarcoD
I am a bit perturbed by the US media's obsession with Russia as a totalitarian state.
Dutch news was essentially the same. The general feeling from an expert was that there wasn't much to talk about since everybody knew/knows who would win anyway.

The current news is rather interesting. You've Putin claiming it was foreigners/US intervention, actually the same complaint from his opposers, and you've got youth on the street tired of lies. That's the same claim and response we've heard prior to the collapse of some Arab governments.

I guess the answer is much easier, just look at this guy: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16127550 , completely western, mostly impeccable English. It's plain hard to rig the books when people got phones with videos and youtube and facebook to expose some of the mess: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2J-7OFxxgA&feature=related .

I guess they'll find out the name calling and paranoid plots are irrelevant and will need proper elections at some point.

[ I should edit and say I am not sure anymore it was Putin who said it. But that there were people on both sides claiming foreign intervention, that's sure. ]
 
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Borek
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I am a bit perturbed by the US media's obsession with Russia as a totalitarian state. How many "occupy" protesters have been arrested? How many Russian protesters? I'm not a fan of Putin, but we should have some balance in our media, especially in the "liberal" media.
There are many ways of being totalitarian - and its seems to me like democracy in Russia is very lame. Yes, it is not as bad situation as in Northern Korea or Belarus, still - it has nothing to do with democracy and freedom of speech in the western understanding. So far Putin and his party were winning elections in large part because they really had a support of people (although they did a lot to keep people misinformed and to not allow new opposition to gain political ground), now they are losing it - and the question what they will do is getting more and more important.

That's the same claim and response we've heard prior to the collapse of some Arab governments.
Bingo. Putin is playing American imperialism card, one that was all the time on the table during Soviet times. I doubt it is still a trump.
 
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So far Putin and his party were winning elections in large part because they really had a support of people (although they did a lot to keep people misinformed and to not allow new opposition to gain political ground), now they are losing it - and the question what they will do is getting more and more important.
I don't think they are losing it. It is just that global economy has slowed down a lot lately.

Even Europe need to watch out for discontent among its people [1]. Democracy allows people to replace leaders and cool down their frustrations but it does not solve the real problems IMO.

I feel Putin is one of the greatest and strongest politician at present and if he leaves Russia will be left to weaker leaders.
 
MarcoD
Even Europe need to watch out for discontent among its people [1]. Democracy allows people to replace leaders and cool down their frustrations but it does not solve the real problems IMO.
God, the pentagon is getting involved? I doubt US military is threatened one bit; they have nice shiny bases and hardly get involved with local life. Moreover, most of Europe is pro-US, there's not a lot of reason for the US military to get excited. That they might sell less military equipment, that's almost a sure thing; we're headed for a slump, of course everywhere there will need to be cuts.

Europe is old and pacifist, if anything, the fear is in the other direction. Or more to the point, nobody feels at the moment this is a Europe/US problem. And even more to the point, you wouldn't believe the public and political pressure emerging in avoiding any US directed problem. Even the Dutch live by the adagium that whatever is good for the US economy/relations, is good for the local economy.

I feel Putin is one of the greatest and strongest politician at present and if he leaves Russia will be left to weaker leaders.
He's reliable regarding his nationalism, that's for sure. But that's also because there may not be any credible alternatives we know of.
 
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Borek
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I don't think they are losing it. It is just that global economy has slowed down a lot lately.
Whatever the reason - they are losing support. Note that it happens in a country where free journalism almost doesn't exist and every TV station is more or less dependent on Kremlin - those that try to be independent and/or criticize president/prime minister/government are closed or bullied till they have no choice but to stop.

I feel Putin is one of the greatest and strongest politician at present and if he leaves Russia will be left to weaker leaders.
That's true, but his power is in substantial part build on abuse of already weak democracy in Russia, and on Russian oil/gas resources. With such cards it is not that difficult to be a winner.
 
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Whatever the reason - they are losing support. Note that it happens in a country where free journalism almost doesn't exist and every TV station is more or less dependent on Kremlin - those that try to be independent and/or criticize president/prime minister/government are closed or bullied till they have no choice but to stop.
Isn't this essentially the same as under the soviet system?
 
Borek
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Isn't this essentially the same as under the soviet system?
Close, but different. On many levels they have a lot more freedom than they had in Soviet times, and the system is much less oppressive than it was. That is especially visible in economy (which makes me think about Chinese model), but also in other areas - for example they travel a lot, internet is not censored (no "Great Wall" filtering content) and so on.

But could be things are going to change.

The way I see it up to now Putin had a real "natural" support, so the oppression and putting down the opposition was not that important. It played its role, but probably even without keeping them low Putin team could win elections and keep the power. Right now this natural (or real) support disappears, and Putin has two choices - let the democracy work (which will probably mean giving power away), or force the democracy to work his way - at which stage Russia turns into dictatorship. His latest statements (about American money supporting dissidents) don't make me optimistic about which way he is going to choose.
 
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Interesting ...

He underwent media training to make him a more palatable owner to American basketball fans - reportedly watching Katie Couric's interview with Sarah Palin for tips on what not to do on camera.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16143378
 
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Close, but different. On many levels they have a lot more freedom than they had in Soviet times, and the system is much less oppressive than it was. That is especially visible in economy (which makes me think about Chinese model), but also in other areas - for example they travel a lot, internet is not censored (no "Great Wall" filtering content) and so on.

But could be things are going to change.
Yes, this seems to be the case. As long as the government didn't have to be overtly oppressive to ensure its perpetuation, then it wasn't overtly oppressive. But the people in Russia seem to be increasingly opposed to the governmental corruption there. It will be interesting to see what happens. As you note, the prospects don't seem good.

It's very unfortunate, imo, that the prospective future of such a potentially great country is being negatively affected by ... (whatever it is that Putin represents).

EDIT: I've spoken with a number of people who lived in the former Soviet Union. To a person, they liked it better under the old regime. But these are all older people. Maybe for the younger ones, it really is better now.
 
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Borek
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EDIT: I've spoken with a number of people who lived in the former Soviet Union. To a person, they liked it better under the old regime. But these are all older people. Maybe for the younger ones, it really is better now.
I am not surprised - it is not much different here (Poland). In so called "communist times" level of the social security was much higher. There were no very rich nor very poor - differences were much smaller. There were constant shortages, you couldn't travel abroad (I think in SU even travel within the country was limited), media were heavily censored, but for average people life wasn't that hard (assuming color TV and car are not a must). Living here now requires initiative and activity, not everyone likes it - and especially many older people see it as a problem. For my son generation (closing 30) this is a normal way of living.

In Russia older people are most likely additionally at least partially brain washed, indoctrination there was on much higher level.
 
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Whatever the reason - they are losing support. Note that it happens in a country where free journalism almost doesn't exist and every TV station is more or less dependent on Kremlin - those that try to be independent and/or criticize president/prime minister/government are closed or bullied till they have no choice but to stop.
You seem quite uninterested in the causes that lead to fall in Putin's popularity. I would favor these protests if I see that Putin's poor economic policies have raised discontent among the people
 
Borek
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You seem quite uninterested in the causes that lead to fall in Putin's popularity. I would favor these protests if I see that Putin's poor economic policies have raised discontent among the people
You are trying to apply western logic to what is happening in Russia. It won't work, as neither the economy nor politics there fits western standards. That's their main problem, and that's what is dawning on young Russians, that's why the protests started.
 

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