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What happened to democracy in Russia? Why don't the Russians care?

By Gideon Lichfield   March 2004

Since Vladimir Putin became president in 2000, Russian politics has regained a Soviet-style inevitability. Putin has no serious challenger in the presidential ballot on 14th March. Even the perennial election stooges, the communist leader Gennady Zyuganov and the ultra-nationalist court jester Vladimir Zhirinovsky, have decided to sit this one out.

The television networks are state-owned and muzzled, former intelligence and military officers are filling senior posts in all the regions, and the courts do the Kremlin’s bidding – as Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed oil billionaire, knows well. After last December’s parliamentary election, the Duma is fully controlled by United Russia,…

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