TEHRAN, Dec. 24 (MNA) -- Recent developments in Russia show that the people can no longer tolerate restrictions on freedom of expression and their right to participate in free and democratic elections.

Popular dissatisfaction over political mismanagement has been increasing over the past few years, resulting in a series of massive demonstrations after the recent parliamentary elections.

The wave of the Arab Spring sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa also played a role in encouraging the Russian masses to express their demands. Just as in the Arab world, the popular demands were not limited to economic issues but also included calls for a more democratic political system.

The ruling party, United Russia, has been accused of election fraud. However, the party was not able to obtain a majority of the seats in the parliament, indicating that the current government has not been able to properly address the demands of the Russian people.

The system has also been accused of discrimination. The State Duma (the lower house of the Russian parliament), which is dominated by Vladimir Putin’s United Russia, has provided special privileges to some groups and individuals but left millions of Russians behind in poverty and misery. Most of the protesters are from the young educated class, citizens who have received nothing from the government’s huge oil and gas revenues.

The global rise in communications technology, especially the increase in internet use by the Russian people, opened up a new space for opposition groups and protesters to express their suppressed desires.

The Russian police’s massive crackdown on the demonstrations has created a tense atmosphere in the country.

And Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, Mikhail Gorbachev, and a number of other political figures have called for the annulment of the election results.

All this could lose votes for Putin, even though he will almost certainly win the presidential election, and could cause major problems for him during his next term in office.

Bahram Amir-Ahmadian is a university professor and expert on Russian politics based in Tehran.

MS/HG
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MNA

News Code 49321

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