Russia has been fixing elections for years, so why has last weekend's parliamentary poll caused so much fuss?
Elections are normally fixed by manipulation, mainly by "political technology" (defaming opponents, inventing tame opposition parties) rather than crude ballot stuffing, so there is no real contest or any point protesting on voting day itself.
The system is non-ideological, so people have less to oppose. The Kremlin has actively encouraged fatalism and cynicism which makes Russians not bothered trying.
But as polling day neared and the United Russia regime's rating continued to fall, it resorted to crude fraud. A million votes were allegedly added to United Russia's tally in Moscow, without which it would not have won its reduced majority in the Duma of 238 out of 450 seats.
But the Kremlin underestimated the extent to which Russia's new social networks would publicise such methods. One blogger jibed that Putin was "President of Chechnya, Ingushetiya and Dagestan -- but not of Russia".
Mr Putin depends for victory on winning an improbable 99 per cent of votes in those republics.