Thousands Of People Protest Against Vladimir Putin In Many Russian Cities
Yes, there were thousands of anti-government protesters out on the streets of the capital this week. And yes, the security forces responded with great brutality. And yes again, online social networks played an important role in galvanising the protests and giving a voice to the protesters.
But no, an autocrat is not about to be toppled. And no, Vladimir Putin is not Hosni Mubarak. So I suspect any references to a "Russian spring" (in December, for goodness sake?) should be taken with a very large pinch of salt.
Let's rewind a few days. Last weekend, Russian voters went to the polls to choose a new parliament. This is not an event that normally excites much interest, because there is rarely any doubt about who is likely to win.
But this time was different. It was the first test of public opinion since Vladimir Putin (currently prime minister) and Dmitri Medvedev (currently president) announced that they intend to repeat their little trick of four years ago and swap jobs. (It's not an exact repeat, in fact, because four years ago, Mr Medvedev was a mere deputy prime minister. But the principle remains the same.)
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