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By Philippe Legrain ADD COMMENTS

So much for the pretence that Putin is a democrat.

Not content with rigging elections, snuffing out press freedom and
having his critics conveniently murdered, Russia’s quasi-dictator
yesterday sent riot troops out in force to the streets of Moscow to
break up a 2,000-strong demonstration of students and pensioners – the
largest-ever anti-Putin rally in the Russian capital – protesting
against his evil regime. Garry Kasparov, the chess champion turned
opposition leader, was also arrested and later released.

What’s new is not that Putin is
stifling dissent, but that he is wielding his iron fist so publicly,
rather than in the shadows, behind a cloak of deniability.

"Russia without Putin," shouted the crowd of unlikely revolutionaries. If only.

Posted 15 Apr 2007 in Blog, Russia

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