Thursday, December 08, 2011

Hope for Russia?

Russians went to the polls over the weekend in legislative elections, which seem to have been the usual con-job: stuffed ballot-boxes, intimidation, 146% turnout in some regions. But where in the past they would have meekly accepted this as the way things are, they're protesting about it. And now they've been joined by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who has called for a re-run:

Mr Gorbachev told Russian news agency Interfax in Moscow: "I think they [Russia's leaders] can only take one decision - annul the results of the election and hold a new one."

The former leader, 80, initiated democratic reforms in the final years of the USSR but rapidly lost popularity and influence after the emergence of the new Russian state under the late Boris Yeltsin.

"Literally by the day, the number of Russians who do not believe that the declared election results were honest is increasing," he said.

"In my opinion, disregard for public opinion is discrediting the authorities and destabilising the situation."

I don't think the Russian regime will listen - this time. But the fact that people are standing up and objecting to fraudulent elections is some cause for hope. Fixed elections can only prevail as long as people accept them. If they don't, if there is a mass public rejection of the results, then things tend to change very quickly. While I don't think it will happen this time, its a sign that Russians' patience with this sort of despotic behaviour is wearing thin. Which if it continues to build, should see change in the relatively near future.