Not What Mr. Putin Planned, New York Times, December 7, 2011
"The United States needs Russia's cooperation on a host of issues, most notably Iran, and the Obama administration made the right decision to try to 'reset' the relationship. But that can't mean giving Mr. Putin's authoritarian ways a pass. So it was good to hear Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton express 'serious concerns' that the voting was neither free nor fair."
MOSCOW, 5 December 2011
"Despite the lack of a level playing field during the Russian State Duma elections, voters took advantage of their right to express their choice."The observers noted that the preparations for the elections were technically well-administered across a vast territory, but were marked by a convergence of the state and the governing party, limited political competition and a lack of fairness."Although seven political parties ran, the prior denial of registration to certain parties had narrowed political competition. The contest was also slanted in favor of the ruling party: the election administration lacked independence, most media were partial and state authorities interfered unduly at different levels. The observers also noted that the legal framework had been improved in some respects and televised debates for all parties provided one level platform for contestants."On election day, voting was well organized overall, but the quality of the process deteriorated considerably during the count, which was characterized by frequent procedural violations and instances of apparent manipulations, including serious indications of ballot box stuffing." http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/85753
"The youthful, Internet-savvy Russians who have turned out in the streets in historic numbers in recent weeks want to end Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's untrammeled rule over their country, but whether they can translate their frustration to the political arena - or even whether they will remain fired up ~ remains an open question." ~ Washington Post, December 19, 2011
"It's embarrassing enough to do poorly in an honest election. Putin's party managed to crater despite vigorous measures to rig the vote." ~ Chicago Tribune, Steve Chapman, Dec. 15, 2011.
"In retrospect, Mr. Putin was lucky to inherit a recovering economy and an incipient oil-and commodity-price boom from Mr. Yeltsin." The Economist, February 28, 2008
"In contrast to Yeltsin whose political term was notorious for creating and strengthening oligarchs, Putin began his first term in the office by fighting the most famous of them: Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky, Gusinsky, and Lebedev. Fighting oligarchs was again high on the agenda during his second election campaign. In addition, Putin attempted centralization process, restricting autonomy of regional political elites and moved political and economic power from the regions to the federal center. A new tax law, which restricted the use of individual tax breaks, was adopted, as well as a number of laws, aimed at easing the burden of business regulation. A new anti-corruption campaign was launched and some governors who were considered most corrupt, e.g. Rutskoy in Kursk region and Nazdratenko in Primorsky region, were not permitted to run for re-election. The governor of Yaroslavl region, Lisitsin, was under a criminal investigation in early fall of 2004 because of pursuing illegal paternalistic policies towards regional business." http://www.cefir.ru/papers/WP52.pdf