Putin, Russia’s Opposition and Perils of U.S.-backed “Democracy Promotion”

Thousands of people took to the streets of Moscow on Monday protesting alleged fraud in Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency. An estimated 500 were arrested in parallel rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg after initial results gave Putin a 63 percent percent victory in Sunday’s vote. Putin previously served as Russia’s president from 2000 to 2008. Monday’s protests followed a number of similar rallies against Putin. We look at the state of Russian politics and the motivations behind the protest movement. “The opposition [has] turned the protest from demand for ‘clean government, democracy and end to corruption,’ to simply ‘Putin must go,’” says Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies at New York University. “It could be a bad thing because, in effect, it is saying let us destabilize the Russian government.” 

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