Saturday 23 September 2017

Shaun Walker: It started with whistles and boos, but where will these protests lead Russia?

Protestors in Russia demonstrate against what the say was a rigged election
Protestors in Russia demonstrate against what the say was a rigged election

SUDDENLY the Kremlin has a problem. Vladimir Putin's return to the top job after four years as Prime Minister was meant to go as smoothly as the 2008 mirror-image transition, when he stepped aside for Dmitry Medvedev, while remaining effectively in charge. But this time, things are going badly wrong.

Ever since Mr Putin announced in September that he was coming back, the mood has gradually changed. The first sign was when he was whistled as he addressed the crowd at a stadium after a martial arts fight last month.

Then, last week's elections. Everyone has always suspected that totals for United Russia are artificially inflated, and that many of those who vote for the party are forced to do so. This time, though, people got angry. They were the first countrywide elections since young Russians started using Facebook and Twitter, and suddenly the evidence of falsifications was there for all to see.

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