As predicted by Radio Derb (and, er, everyone else), the Russian elections on Sunday have left Vladimir Putin with a much reduced majority in the Duma (= House of Representatives; Senators are appointed, as ours used to be, and Presidents elected on a different cycle). This is even after Vlad and his hand puppet Dmitry Medvedev maxed out the arts of ballot-stuffing and raising-of-the-dead.
Main beneficiaries were the Communist Party, not because of any surge in public desire to see Communism return, but because the CP is the only one to retain even a smidgeon of independence from Putin and his bagmen.
Even here in apolitical Moscow, Russians are fed up. Why are they fed up? Check out Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2011. Russia’s at No. 143, tied with Uganda and (gulp!) Nigeria, below Sierra Leone, Nicaragua, and (Oh Lord!) Pakistan. You’d be fed up too.
I had my last engagement this morning, a TV interview. Free at last, we took this afternoon off to circumambulate the Kremlin. (Note: Moscow’s nine hours ahead of New York). There were police checkpoints everywhere, for fear of demonstrations. Going from Red Square through the Square of Revolution & attached squarelets to the Alexander Garden, we went through five, four of them equipped with metal detectors.