11/23/2011, 00.00
RUSSIA

Putin booed as Russia calls for change

by Nina Achmatova
The unprecedented challenge to Vladimir Putin is accompanied by a gradual decline in approval of the Prime Minister and his party: the Russians dissatisfaction with pre-announced role reversal with Medvedev. Satire and protest build on the web.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - It had never before happened in his political career and in Russia is now seen as a glimpse of a slight change. The rain of boos that poured down on Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Nov. 20, as he congratulated the Russian winner of a mixed martial arts competition, was read by some commentators as "the end of an era." That is to say, where the strong leader of Russia - two terms as president, one as prime minister from, and the Kremlin's favoured candidate in 2012 – once inspired reverence and trust in the electorate and whose popularity had never fallen below 70% of the vote.

The economic crisis that leaves no glimpse of the bright future outlined by Putin in the previous decade, the growing estrangement of citizens from the political class and a nascent civil society committed to denouncing the distortions of an outdated and unjust system, are helping to form a more critical and aware public opinion. The voters feel cheated by the decision taken by the Putin-Medvedev tandem to switch roles in 2012 as is seen in figures of the couple’s political consensus rating: just above 40% for President Medvedev and around 50% for Putin.

Putin's rhetoric has become "obsolete," warned a recent report by the 'Centre for Strategic Research', and if the United Russia party does not undergo real restructuring, responding to the interests of middle class in the future it will play a increasingly marginal role until it disappears. The problem is that Putin's policies, according to the think tank, are stalled at the Russia of the '90s, "when there was only one type of citizen, the poor". But the Russian middle class is growing and according to analysts in 2015 will be the most influential social force "will demand adequate political representation."

Despite Putin's entourage trying to downplay the incident, the boos at the 'Olimpiski' stadium carry a strong weight also because they come from what was once his traditional audience: fans of those values of strength, patriotism and 'machismo' of which the head of government- who came from the KGB - has always been a standard bearer. A sign that perhaps in this segment of society his image no longer has the same fascination.

With the December 4 legislative elections on the horizon, the challenge to Putin has given rise to the most dire pollster predictions: United Russia remains the favoured formation, but will not reach an absolute majority in Parliament, as it has always done before.

Russia, which still fears a possible North African scenario within its borders, may not be on the brink of epochal revolutions, but perhaps more of a general social awakening. Yet more proof of this is the increasing emergence of satire, not yet on traditional media, but which continues to grow in every form on blog, radio and independent TV, without fear of reprisal or censorship by the authorities. Something Putin will have to take into account in his third term as president.


Printable version
CLOSE X
See also
Russia isolated; Putin accuses U.S. of preparing conflict in Georgia
29/08/2008
Ramos-Horta loses E Timor presidential election, Guterres and Ruak in runoff
19/03/2012
Russia against Putin, the Orthodox Church warns against "revolutions"
12/12/2011
The new mayor of Moscow, Putin's victory or a deal with Medvedev
19/10/2010
Bishop Wert is reappointed as head of the Russian bishops
05/03/2008