Vladimir Putin has for a third time taken office as Russian president. Though, he is coming back to a country in a very different mood, says Oleg Buklemishev, Economist and Advisor to opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov. “The scene of the inauguration car passing through an empty city is quite symbolic”. Buklemishev is convinced that the authorities’ violence towards mostly peaceful protesters shows that “intolerance towards dissent will only increase during new Putin term. Instead of bridging the national divide he has clearly chosen to polarize society even more”. Her believes that even the “weakest” of Medvedev’s “political reform” can be revoked in this environment
There already exists a critical mass of young people eager to change the regime by non-constitutional though dominantly peaceful means. Oleg Buklemishev argues that this makes the regime extremely uncomfortable. And that nobody of the leaders can appear in public without fear of being booed.
“Police on Sunday used batons and charging tactics to break up an anti-Putin rally in the centre of Moscow which had been sanctioned by the authorities but had descended into chaos,” reported British The Telegraph on the day of Putin’s inauguration. The opposition leader Boris Nemtsov on his home page nemtsov.ru wrote that “according to the Interior Ministry in Moscow 436 people were arrested”, though the opposition claims that the list is much longer: about 650 detainees. Three key leaders of the protest movement were arrested: anti-corruption campaigner and blogger Alexei Navalny, liberal politician Boris Nemtsov and left-wing leader Sergei Udaltsov. Nemtsov was soon released after being sentenced to a fine.
Moscow City Hall had given approval for 5,000 participants to take part in the march and rally on Sunday. Moscow Times reported that the police said 8,000 demonstrators passed through the metal detectors set up at the start of the march route, “but people could reach Bolotnaya Ploshchad via an alternative route. Organizers estimated that there were as many as 100,000 protesters on hand.
Oleg Buklemishev is convinced that the issue of legitimacy is central to the future political dynamics in Russia. “Lacking domestic legitimacy Putin will actively seek it abroad. Unfortunately, several foreign leaders are not prepared to discontinue kisses-and-hugs relations with Putin and it will ultimately damage Russia’s democratic prospects”, says Buklemishev.
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