The recent Russian Duma elections have brought a rare sight to Russian streets: mass protests against Vladimir Putin and his system of managed democracy.
The polls showed that United Russia had won with almost fifty percent of the vote--a far cry from their 2007 totals, amid allegations of voter fraud and ballot box stuffing. These mass protests seem to have caught everyone off guard because of their size and the youthful core of the protestors.
While no one is predicting a Putin collapse, these protests are a positive development for Russian democracy.
Putin has largely run a dominant party police state that has excluded opposition parties and restricted voter choice. No population is going to stay passive forever against such conditions. Still, most Russians continue to put up with the system of managed democracy and the need for a police state.
It was largely assumed before these mass protests that things were peachy under the Russian sun. These protests offer a flicker of hope for advocates of democracy within the Russian Federation, but don’t expect these protests to lead to anything other than a Putin crackdown because the majority of Russians stand firmly behind Putin.