Even rampant voting fraud barely secured a majority for Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party in the recent Russian elections. Disgruntled voters signaled they are ready to push aside the puppet role they’ve adopted for the last 20 years. At the ballot box, on the streets, in sports arenas and in the blogosphere, they are are saying to Putin, ‘time to change.’
Maxim Trudolubov, a Russian editorial columnist, says Russia has been “Putin’s project,” but ordinary people are tired of the amount of control he has accumulated. The fraud carried out in the elections was so bad that even Mikhail Gorbachev, the last head of the Soviet Union, joined calls to annul the elections.
Not that Putin is likely to respond. Nor is he likely to lose the presidential election in March. “The Kremlin’s control over the political system, which includes the court system and the electoral commission, will probably remain unchallenged for the foreseeable future,” Trudulyubov writes.
But, “for the first time in years, national matters have attracted people’s attention. Some members of the population have remembered that they are also citizens.”