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Lettera dalla Russia

We in Russia have just survived a regular presidential election campaign.

As you know, Vladimir Putin has won with a ‘’landslide’’ majority in the first round.

However, there is plenty of evidence that at least as many as 10 to 14 % of the ballots have been rigged, despite the fact that some state-of-the- art monitoring devises were installed in the polls.

There is a wide belief that V. Putin might have not won this campaign in the first round but for the riggings.

At the same time, despite his waning popularity, Putin still enjoys support of vast layers of the Russian population, especially those living outside major cities.

These layers include a considerable number of the working class people, predominantly those who live in small towns and who are employed by state run companies.

According to some estimates, Vladimir Putin’s real support at the election amounted to 45-50 % of the votes (about 45 million voters), not the reported 64 %.

However, Putin’s forty five million supporters is still a high proportion.

In some areas, for example, in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Putin’s popularity has dwindled dramatically.
Moscow, Saint Petersburg and other cities have witnessed both pro Putin and anti Putin meetings and rallies.

The pro Putin rallies have shown a higher turnover, although some of their participants, with most of them being employees of state owned companies, have been delivered to the meetings by buses and other transport hired and funded by activists of the Edinaya Rossia ruling party.

As to the anti Putin protests, they have been attended by people of various political colors and hues and been supported by movements of different political leanings.

One of the most worrying facts is that the latest protests have been dominated by right wing liberals (Prohkorov and others) and so called ‘’moderate’’ nationalists (Alexey Navalny and others).

The left movements have been represented by small groups of activists, with Sergey Udaltsov, Left Front Leader, being the most active.

As to the trade unions, just a few of them have been reported to be involved in the ongoing protests, mainly the so called new unions.

Most official unions, belonging to the FNPR and SOTSPROF Confederations, support Putin.
Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party Chairperson, is reported to have ranked the second in the election race.

There have been a number of splits reported among the protest groups.

Here, in Saint Petersburg (Leningrad) two protest coordinating committees have been set up, competing each other, one  being dominated by liberals and ‘’moderate’’ nationalists and the other one – by left wing activists.

My personal belief is that the current situation in Russia is very much similar to that of the former Yugoslavia, in the last years of Miloshevich’s rule.

Simonov Yury,
Saint Petersburg,

Alternativy Movement, Association of Marxist Opposition Movement, International Alliance of Inhabitants, ESF

Please see also a footage of the spontaneous protest against the election riggings in Saint Petersburg
http://www.len.ru/

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