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CNN Reporter: Russians are Dissatisfied with Recent Election

Jill Dougherty

March 27, 2012 – CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty said today that opposition to Vladimir Putin remains strong despite his recent election as president of the Russian Federation.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which helped monitor the election, reported that “the conditions for the campaign were clearly skewed in favour of one candidate.”

And Dougherty, who covered the election, said there is a strong feeling of dissatisfaction among Russians about the election.

“Their leader may be the same, but they are not,” she said, in a talk sponsored by Georgetown’s Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies.

The Russian government has made some positive steps, she said, including relaxing restrictions on registering political opposition parties and allowing opposing views on the government-controlled media.

But Russia is far from measuring up to Europe or America in fair elections.

“There is very little self-reflection among the leadership [nor] an ability to admit that things could improve,” she said.

While Dougherty said it was “entirely possible” that Putin could crack down on future opposition, she added that “We haven’t seen it yet … but it could get worse.”

Dougherty highlighted the Russian opposition’s political inexperience and failure to galvanize behind a leader.

“In Russia right now, there is no one person who is carrying the flag, and that’s a problem,” she explained.

Russians are not content, but they are wary of an Arab Spring in their own country.

“As long as the option seems to be between chaos or Putin, they will choose Putin,” she said.

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