Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings top 70 percent, and most citizens say that they’ll vote for whomever he chooses as a successor after his last constitutional term in office.
This, along with Putin’s intolerance of dissent and the ongoing, unsolved and usually fatal attacks on his critics, have cemented fears of resurgent authoritarianism.
The Telegraph reports on two recent incidents: the shooting of a “vocal” critic of Putin in Maryland in an apparent robbery, and the death of a journalist in Russia after he fell from the fourth floor of his apartment building.
The mayor of the Arkhangelsk, the sole contender so far in next year’s presidential elections, said that since declaring his candidacy he has come under police investigation, and expects to be jailed despite testimony in his favor.
Bloomberg reports that pro-Kremlim parties are expected to sweep regional elections later this month, since the reformist Yablinko Party and the pro-business Union of Rightist Forces have both been barred.
And in Moscow last weekend, one of the largest pro-democracy rallies in years was violently broken up by riot police.
“Are Putin’s agents behind shooting?”
The Telegraph (U.K.), March 7, 2007
“I am victim of dirty tricks, says man who aims to replace Putin”
The Telegraph (U.K.), March 3, 2007
“Putin Squeezes Opposition as 2008 Presidential Election Looms”
Bloomberg, March 8, 2007
“Kasparov says violently dispersed weekend protest showed Russians overcoming their fear”
Associated Press, March 5, 2007