Saturday, December 17, 2011

They once were compliant supporters...

...and now they are becoming vocal critics.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Russians between 25 and 40 are now the strongest critics of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin
Many members of the young, urban middle class had decided to vote or even signed up as volunteer election observers. They were stunned by the brazen rigging they witnessed, as well as by the total unwillingness of authorities to respond to their complaints. Those who didn't work at the polling places heard from their friends or watched video reports on Facebook or Twitter.

Suddenly, Ms. [Kseniya] Sobchak and her apolitical generation have become a political force, helping to fill the ranks of the biggest antigovernment demonstrations in over a decade. "I call it the mink revolution," she says.
The prime minister and President Dmitri Medvedev see the potential that these young adults have in derailing their cozy political relationship. And the New York Times notes Mr. Medvedev already is proposing political change
President Dmitri A. Medvedev said Saturday that the country’s political system had “exhausted itself” and must be changed, and that the Russian authorities should accept that street protests reflected “the mood of our people.” '
The remarks, Mr. Medvedev’s first lengthy commentary on an unprecedented series of anti-Kremlin protests in Russia’s large cities, came two days after Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin went out of his way to insult the protesters during his annual televised question-and-answer session, saying that the white ribbon they have adopted as a symbol of reform looked like a condom. 
It's doubtful that topic came up during Friday's conversation between President Obama and Mr. Medvedev, but the leaders did have a lengthy conversation about the geopolitical relationship between the nations and Russia's recent parliamentary elections that spawned the protests that have caught the attention of the Kremlin. 

Let's throw some reality into this picture of Russia's pockets of vocal adults. They are not coalescing around a real reformer and there in fact is no one on the political stage with a strong enough presence to immediately threaten Mr. Putin or Mr. Medvedev. But that doesn't mean ignoring their voices is wise; the Kremlin appears to listening.

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