I have often hesitated over whether to describe Russia as a democracy. Yes, the country has elections. But so much about the political system seemed to be rigged: from the harassment of the political opposition, to the slavishly favourable coverage given on television to Vladimir Putin and the United Russia party. There were also frequent rumours of ballot-box stuffing during elections. But, whatever the flaws of Russian democracy, it is robust enough to have delivered a genuine slap-in-the-face to Putin’s United Russia party, which looks as if it could well lose its majority in the Duma, after the elections today.
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