The Shattered Remains Of Russian Democracy


(MENAFN- Asia Times) The still mysterious death of Russian opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny was greeted by some Kremlin critics as proof that the era of democratic politics is over in Russia.

That any change or reset back to democratic governance will henceforth not be due to the ballot box but will depend on a wave of popular protest galvanizing enough support to topple Vladimir Putin.

Navlany's death comes a few short weeks before Russia holds presidential elections. If Putin wins, the result will confirm him in office for another six-year term.

There are no serious opposition candidates, and the only registered opposition candidate to voice criticism of the war in Ukraine, Boris Nadezhdin, was recently disqualified from running . Thanks to a 2020 constitutional amendment that removed term limits, Putin can stay in office until 2036.

So what becomes of Russia's opposition and the country's fast-disappearing (if not defunct) democracy in the meantime? Who dares pick up Navalny's standard in the campaign against Russia's autocratic leader?

The death of democracy in Russia has been proclaimed several times. Within five years of Putin coming to power, analysts were already pointing to the lack of authentic opposition parties .

Meanwhile, surveys by the Levada Center – Russia's best-known opinion pollsters – found that by mid-2004 only 42% of Russians believed that political opposition still existed in the country.

By that stage, they had already seen the death of veteran opposition politician Sergei Yushenkov , leader of the anti-Kremlin party Liberal Russia, who was shot in front of his Moscow home in April 2003.

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