In the 1990s, Russia got rid of communism and was on the road to establishing a democracy. The press openly expressed its ideas without fear of being suppressed and numerous political parties vied for power. Then, along came former KGB agent, Vladmir Putin, to clean up the mess of democracy. He created a United Russia party which was completely under his control, ended elections of province governors by having them appointed by the president of Russia, and rigged elections. In the 2003 elections, if an opposing party obtained 0.9% it was conveniently changed to 0.5% with the remainder transfered to United Russia. This led to many parties failing to obtain the necessary 50,000 votes which qualified them for at least one seat in the Duma. Now, times have changed with United Russia easily obtaining 70% of the vote. Putin’s current problem is getting other parties to put up candidates since they know the deck is stacked. Fortunately, there are always the conservative communists who probably will put up candidates. As Boris Kagaritsky writes in the Moscow Times, “In the end since Russia has a de facto one party system it is not necessary at all to falsify election results.”
Putin no longer how to fool around with such mundane things as rigging elections, he controls the entire process. Opposition candidates can’t get on TV, they lack money to spend on elections, so to the outside world there will be a “free election” in December for the Dumas. But, most Russians know the results and many will stay home. Such is democracy in 2007 Russia.