THE RUSSIAN MOVEMENT AGAINST PUTIN: IMAGINING A DIFFERENT RUSSIA

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Thursday, May 11, 2017
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“I believe it would be only correct for the [United Russia party] congress to support the candidacy of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for president of the Russian Federation,” Dmitry Medvedev announced.iIt was September 2011, and Medvedev had been president of Russia for nearly four years – four years of rhetoric about reform, modernization, and even “genuine democracy.”ii Now, however, no doubt could remain that this rhetoric had been hollow from the start. Putin smirked, “This agreement was reached between us several years ago,” confirming that Medvedev’s presidency had indeed been no more than a scheme to circumvent Russia’s constitutional ban on three consecutive terms of office.iiiPutin had already served as president from 2000 to 2008, and now Russians realized that he could hold the office again until 2024 – much longer than any Russian leader since Joseph Stalin.A wave of dismay swept through the country. Many who had hoped “that Medvedev would become a genuine president…that we might see some real democracy” now faced a “point of no return.”ivResentment grew as “people saw that the leadership had been fooling them…for four years.”v The prospect of a twelve-year Putin presidency was unnerving; as one young Russian said, “I don’t want to live my whole life only knowing Putin as president!”vi It was a turning point that would reignite the Russian opposition.

 

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