Friday, December 02, 2011

Russian nationalism turns deadly

Reuters reports that the nationalist fervor that Vladimir Putin developed over nearly a decade is now turning against him.
Twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Kremlin is now clamping down on Russian nationalism. Vladimir Putin, who is likely to retake the Kremlin in an election next March, tapped the nationalist fervor during his first two terms as president to feed his vision of a great Russia. But Russia's nationalists now feel he has betrayed them by welcoming migrant laborers and sending billions of dollars to the majority Muslim North Caucasus.
Ultra-right groups have refused to back any political party ahead of parliamentary elections on December 4. They openly mock Putin and his fellow leader Dmitry Medvedev with almost the same vigor as they do migrants. Tapping popular anger over migration, corruption and failing social services, extremists say the leaders they once backed have turned against Russia's 80 percent white Slavic population.
"There is more than just massive dissatisfaction with the state," said Valeriy Solovey, an academic at the elite Moscow State Institute of International Relations who is considered by many to be the ideologue of the nationalist movement. "It's hatred. That hatred is directed at all organs of the state and it's directed at the very top -- I mean the prime minister and the president."
The Independent adds that Putin is doing what he can to recapture support.
But while the Kremlin is long used to dealing with the complaints of the marginalised liberal opposition, the broader-scale discontent that has appeared in recent months is far more worrying. Mr Putin has now effectively ruled Russia for the past 12 years, including a four-year stint as prime minister. In September, he announced that he and Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian President, would swap jobs again. But instead of proving a boost to his popularity, the Russian leader's poll ratings have begun to drop, as more Russians become uneasy at the idea of another decade of Mr Putin. In an unprecedented development, the leader was booed when he addressed the crowd after a martial arts contest at a Moscow stadium last month.
A poor showing for United Russia tomorrow will increase worries that Mr Putin's return to the Kremlin will not pass off as smoothly as planned.
In examining the upcoming elections, Deutsche Welle adds that Putin's party will retain control no matter how disaffected people might be.

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