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Managing Dissent in Russia

Tonight the FT is running an editorial on the results of Sunday’s regional “elections” titled “Russia’s tame parties are no safety valve for social discontent.” Excerpts:

In the event, Just Russia has performed rather well for such an artificial party. Indeed, there is a danger for the Kremlin that in creating what is supposed to be a token opposition, it may create a real one – at least in the regions, where personality clashes dictate political divisions, as much as any ideology. A bigger problem with a managed democracy is that it provides no safety valve for social discontent. Living conditions are miserable in many parts of Russia, and sanitised political parties are not going to fight for the money needed to alleviate them. They are more likely to line their own pockets. On top of that, tame parties do not help Mr Putin with his biggest dilemma: how to find a reliable, competent and reasonably popular successor to follow him. That is the question causing the most nervousness in the Kremlin. Everyone expects Mr Putin to anoint his successor. It would be so much easier if he could leave it to a genuinely democratic choice.