Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin was all but booed off-stage a week ago after a mixed martial arts fight in Moscow.
Putin is running for president, a post he held from 2000 to 2008. He appeared in the ring after a victory by Russian mixed martial artist Fedor Emelianenko over American Jeff Monson. Fans began booing and whistling, seemingly stunning Putin, who momentarily stopped his speech. Later, Putin defenders devised a number of reasons for the booing, including that catcalls were for the American as he left the ring area. (Watch the video).
But “Most spectators of the match were young, and their reaction to Putin shows that they are well informed about political life in the country and dislike it,” sports editor Konstantin Ustyantsev told the Moscow Times.
One Russian blogger called it “the end of an era.” The presdiental elections do not take place until March, but the booing came just two weeks before elections for the Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament. Polling shows that Putin’s United Russia party appears likely to lose the two-thirds parliamentary majority it needs to pass laws without the support of another party.
Putin has placed a premium on winning as many seats as possible in the Parliamentary elections. He wants to avoid the gridlock of the United States and the economic troubles of the European Union. He recently compared the EU to a hamster that had stuffed too much food (member nations) in its mouth.
Despite the booing, Putin’s approval rating remains high, at 61 percent. In the March elections, he remains poised to swap seats with Russia’s current president, Dmitry Medvedev.