News / Europe

Is Putin Showing Weakness in Face of Opposition Movement?

From left, Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, Russian minister of economic development Elvira Nabiullina, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russian presidential chief of staff Sergei Ivanov meet to discuss economic issues in the Gorki presidential reside
From left, Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, Russian minister of economic development Elvira Nabiullina, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russian presidential chief of staff Sergei Ivanov meet to discuss economic issues in the Gorki presidential reside
James Brooke

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin switches campaign managers in the middle of an election campaign. Is his position as solid as he would like the world to think?

The prime minister was talking tough, telling a nationwide TV audience that the parliamentary elections are over, and it’s time to move on.

But the tough talk came days after his government announced political reforms in hopes of taking the momentum out of a planned opposition rally. The move seemed to have had little impact. The rally, which took place in Moscow Saturday, drew an estimated 100,000 protesters.

“The psychological compensation he needs when being forced to make some moves and being afraid that these moves in a positive direction being perceived as his weakness,” said Nikolai Petrov, political analyst for the Carnegie Moscow Center, about the tough talk.

A clear sign of problems came Tuesday when Putin decided to switch campaign managers - less than 10 weeks before the presidential election.

Vladislav Surkov, the sidelined political advisor, helped Putin come to power in 2000. A former advertising man, he worked for a decade in the Kremlin. He created the now ruling United Russia party. He created Nashi, the Putin youth group. And he brought television channels under tight political controls.

“This replacement weakens the Kremlin in that Surkov is the founding father of the big political machine which will not work effectively without him,” said Petrov, who worked in the Kremlin before Surkov arrived.

The new political advisor, Vyacheslav Volodin, was a founder of the Russia Popular Front, a support group of trade unions and professional groups.

This heavily blue collar group may become a key pillar of support for Putin as Russia’s urban middle class tire of him. At a televised meeting of the Front on Tuesday, Putin, nodded sympathetically as a retired metal worker spoke of his outrage at the anti-government postings on Russia’s free-wheeling Internet.

Legitimacy

Demonstrators hold a rally protesting against election fraud in Moscow, December 24, 2011.
Demonstrators hold a rally protesting against election fraud in Moscow, December 24, 2011.

Putin seeks to win the March 4 presidential elections on the first round, with over 50 percent of the vote.

Talking to Front members, he called for transparent election, using clear plastic ballot boxes. He stressed his desire that election be perceived - in Russia and overseas - as legitimate.

He said he can be elected president without ballot stuffing.

On Wednesday, a Wall Street Journal computerized study of returns from Russia’s nearly 100,000 polling stations concluded that about 40 percent of votes cast for the ruling party were in some way associated with ballot stuffing and other fraudulent practices.

Putin warned his supporters that they should not tolerate any “independent actions” at polling stations.

Measures against corruption

The opposition has vowed to send dozens of poll watchers to stations where they suspect there was fraud in the Dec. 4 parliamentary elections.

Indeed, the new drive for free and fair elections shows no sign of going away.

In a survey conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Center, 89 percent of those polled said they plan to join more rallies after Russia’s mid-winter break, which starts Friday.

This week in Moscow, protesters rallied outside a court where one protest leader, Sergei Udaltsov, was being tried. Dozens got in shoving matches with police inside a courthouse. Hundreds more rallied outside. They chanted “Shame on the corrupt court,” and that the judge was “A servant of Satan.”

More, small unsanctioned demonstrations planned for this week in Moscow.

Last Friday, Alexei Kudrin, a former finance minister and close friend of Putin, met with Putin and discussed the opposition movement. The next day, Kudrin spoke at the mass, opposition rally. He warned that, without dialogue, there could be revolution.

He was loudly booed.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid