Russia at a Crossroads
By Adam Smith
The recent plummet in support of the United Russia party may signal the beginning of the end of Vladimir Putin’s rule of Russia. In the latest parliamentary election polls, The United Russia party received less than half of the votes, a huge decline from previous elections.
Putin, who has served as Russia’s Prime Minister since 2008, previously acted as President from 2000-2008. Because he could only serve two consecutive terms, Putin was succeeded by Demitry Medvedev. Medvedev however, has recently announced that he plans to step down after his term concludes, which causes many to argue that Putin has been pulling the strings these past three years with Medvedev acting as a figurehead of sorts. Also, Medvedev’s presidency lasted only one term; many believe that the only reason for his presidency was for Putin to circumvent election procedures and serve additional terms. In 2012, Putin will be running for President yet again, which leads to the conclusion that the United Russia Party supported Medvedev because they knew that he would allow Putin to run after his term ends. By running for President in 2012, Putin is attempting to assert control over Russia that many would consider to be un-democratic.
Many Russian citizens may also be opposed to Putin’s re-election because of his past actions. Putin joined KGB immediately after graduating college, and was involved with the Soviet Union’s Communist spy organization from 1975 – 1992. Putin has also been linked to several instances of individuals mysteriously conducting radiation poisoning. In many cases, these individuals were speaking out against Putin or criticizing him in some way, which suggests that Putin organized these poisonings. As a result, some individuals do not want someone who grew up with an inarguably communist mindset to be leading them democratically.
The fact that the United Russia party has been performing so poorly in polls suggests that the Russian people no longer want Putin to run their nation. The United Russia’s party’s persistent efforts to place Putin in a position of power therefore demonstrates that the party is severely out of touch with what the people actually want from their government. Many Russians additionally seem to be put off by Putin’s “tough guy” persona, illustrated by the dangerous activities and sports he supposedly takes part in.
If these indications turn out to be true and the Russian people do not want Putin anymore, what will be the next step for Russia politically? The decrease in popularity shows the potential beginning of a transitional period for Russia. But when election time comes, do the votes of the people really matter? The United Russia party is the largest and most powerful party in the country, and if they want a certain individual in power, they can make it happen. They have in the past. But perhaps the most pressing question that Russia is currently facing is the reliability of their potential leader. They know about his past. Who knows what the future may hold for Russia? And can someone who was brought up with a communist outlook effectively lead a nation democratically?
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