(The Telegraph) Few people will expect any electoral upset when Russians go to the polls for parliamentary elections on Sunday.
With personal approval ratings of over 80 percent, a stranglehold on the media, and a pliant parliament and judiciary, Vladimir Putin's grip on power appears as strong as at any time since he took over from Boris Yeltsin a decade and a half ago.
Yet the Russian authorities appear to be taking no chances. […]
In the last two weeks of August alone, several dozen farmers from the Krasnodar region drove on Moscow to protest illegal land seizures by major agricultural corporations; 175 coal miners in the Rostov region went on hunger strike over unpaid wages; and auto workers in the Samara region briefly blocked a federal highway, also in protest at wage arrears.
So far, these incidents pose little political threat to the Kremlin, said Nikolai Petrov, an expert on Russian regional affairs at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. […]
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