12/05/2011, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Patriarch of Moscow: Russian elections, the beginning of a journey

by Nina Achmatova
Kirill praises yesterday's vote, and appeals for national unity. But the polls delineate, in fact, the end of Putin's dominance in parliament and opens the door to "Internet party."
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The beginning of a long road for change in Russia. This is how the Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill commented on the results of legislative elections that yesterday marked Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party “semi” victory. The party, which since 2007 has held the constitutional majority in the Duma (the lower house of parliament) has experienced a sharp decline in support that has brought it down from 64% to a humiliating 50%. A result, which both the prime minister and President Dmitri Medvedev, however, have defined as "good", is in fact the end of an era: that of Putin’s absolute control of parliament. Now he will be forced to open to alliances with other three parties who have managed to enter the Duma. The last polls have strengthened the position of the Communists, who stood as the second largest party (24.7%), the centrist Fair Russia (12.8%) and Liberal Democrats (9.6%).

These elections - said Kirill - in a certain way "are the beginning of a journey, but our country has many things yet to do. the very survival of Russia will depend on if we succeed". "Russia can exist only as a large multi-ethnic state," added the head of the Russian Orthodox Church reiterating the concept of unity and solidarity among the peoples of the world's largest country, so dear to the Kremlin during the campaign.

But the Cold War and Soviet flavour rhetoric used by Putin has taken hold on voters. It has represented a sharp slap in the face for his personal image. The former KGB agent, the leading candidate for the presidency in March next year, remains the most popular leader in Russia, but no longer as a Tzar, and will have to deal with a country that is changing. The economic crisis, the inefficiency of public administration, widespread corruption, never really fought by the State, have helped spread a sense of dissatisfaction with the government that the internet - the only real tool for the free voices of opposition - is helping to amplify. For the moment it seems those in power not to want to listen.

The persecution unleashed against newspaper websites and NGOs engaged in denouncing electoral fraud and victims of serious hacking attacks goes to show that the authorities still believe they can maintain the status quo with the usual repressive methods. To remind them that the future has already crossed the threshold of the house now in Russia is what is now called the "Internet Party" which has called a large protest for tonight in Moscow. All through social networks.

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