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Navalny smear campaign?

From RT:

“Russia’s parliamentary majority party, United Russia, has dismissed as provocation a report that it hired PR specialists and bloggers to discredit popular anti-corruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny.

­The report about United Russia’s alleged activities appeared in the Monday edition of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper. The article quoted a source in a “large Moscow advertising agency” as saying that his company received a contract from a top member of the United Russia party to start a smear campaign against Aleksei Navalny – a popular and high-profile activist who combines fighting corruption, greenmailing Russian corporations and relentless criticism of United Russia and its members. The newspaper said that the agency’s budget for the campaign amounted to 10 million roubles (about $300,000) and that the plan that appeared in the course of Friday’s brainstorm included shooting fake videos using a Navalny lookalike and distributing them on the Russian blogosphere.”

To read more, check out the RT article here.

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Russia’s Opposition Takes National Fight Local

Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov holds a placard during a rally outside the representative offices of the Astrakhan region during a rally in Moscow, April 9, 2012. From Voice of America, read more at: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/europe/Russias-Opposition-Takes-National-Fight-Local-147239475.html.

It appears that the Russian opposition movement has switched its tactics from the national level to a grassroots outreach in generating support for political change.

From Voice of America:
“The arrival of Navalny and other leaders from Moscow is part of a new opposition strategy to take the fight for clean government to Russia’s regions.  Next month, Vladimir Putin is to be inaugurated for a presidential term that is to stretch to 2018.

By taking their fight local, opposition forces have won three big city mayoral races in the past five weeks.

Pavel Felgenhauer is a Moscow political analyst.

‘Despite Putin’s landslide victory in presidential elections last March 4, the opposition movement in Russia is not dead and will continue,’ said Felgenhauer.”

To read more, check out James Brooke’s article on VOA.

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Dying Russia

Instead of being a force to galvanize a new round of opposition enthusiasm, the efforts to protest the recent mayoral election in Astrakhan have served only to emphasize the weakness and indeed dissolution being experienced by the opposition forces.

The Just Russia party promised that every single one of its deputies in Moscow would travel to Astrakhan to rally in support of Oleg Shein, their defeated candidate for Astrakhan mayor who claims fraud denied him the office.  But in the event, less than a third of the deputies (Russian-language link) actually made the trip.

Just Russia, of course, is hardly a focal point of the opposition.  Though it had a place on the ballot last December, none of the opposition leaders endorsed it much less participated in its operations, and it has always been thought of as a Kremlin patsy.

The focus on Astrakhan resulted in major reporting in the

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Russian protesters turn to street art

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Russia: Comrade Putin Indicates He Would Support A Law Limiting Term Limits…Just Not On Himself…


Vladimir Putin, the man who will become Russia’s president for a third term next month, indicated Wednesday he would back a law that bars others from doing what he did, ruling as president more than twice.

But Putin also suggested such a law would not apply to himself, leaving open the possibility that he could run for a fourth presidential term in 2018.


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Is Putin planning on building a new Russian national guard?




In Moscow’s Shadows (New York)

According to Nezavisimaya gazeta (April 2, 2012), President-elect Putin is planning to create a new National Guard, a domestic security force uniting the MVD VV Interior Troops, the MChS Ministry of Emergency Situation forces and various other security and military elements.

This Natsionalnaya gvardiya would include not just paramilitary security forces but also light airmobile units with their own transport aircraft, specialized motorized infantry brigades, and special forces. The Guard would also assimilate the 20,000 officers in the new Military Police, making it in many ways similar to the French Gendarmerie Nationale or Italian Carabinieri: a parallel police service, parallel military and internal security force all in one.

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Putin’s Regime Won’t End Without an Opposing Vision

Putin Regime

Vladimir Putin’s return to the Russian presidency represents much more than a setback for the country’s protest movement. It is a major defeat.

To understand why, consider the sudden celebrity of Irina Prokhorova, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s older sister.

Before this month’s elections, she acted as her brother’s proxy in a presidential debate against the charismatic and Oscar-winning film mogul Nikita Mikhalkov, who was standing in for Putin. With a few well-placed phrases, the calm, well- educated Prokhorova dismantled Mikhalkov’s arguments so thoroughly that he ended up offering her his vote.

Commentators parroted the director’s praise, building her up as a presidential candidate in her own right and calling her Russia’s answer to Angela Merkel. Never mind that Prokhorova, a publisher of high-brow literature who also manages her brother’s charitable initiatives, has no political platform, and no desire or particular qualifications to run the country.

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