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Flag of Russia
  1. Russia Main Page
  2. The Bolshevik Revolution
  3. Emergence of the USSR
  4. The Berlin Blockade and the Cold War
  5. Dissolution of the USSR
  6. Financial Crisis and Political Upheaval
  7. Putin's Rise to Power
  8. Attempts at Chechen Independence Fail
  9. A Shocking Hostage Situation, a Move Towards Climate Change, and Radiation Poison
  10. Crumbling Relations with the United States while Putin Retains Power
  11. Conflict with Georgia and the Demise of the Western Friendship
  12. String of Suicide Bombs Sparks Fear of a Crackdown by Putin
  13. Putin to Return to the Presidency
  14. 2011 Parliamentary Elections Spark Massive Protests
  15. Russia Blocks U.N. Action in Syria
  16. Unrest Surrounds the 2012 Presidential Election
  17. New Laws Passed against Political Activists, Pussy Riot Arrested
  18. Russia enters the World Trade Organization, Won't Renew Weapons Pact with United States
  19. Opposition Leader Says He Was Forced to Confess
  20. Anti-Gay Bill Ignites International Protests
  21. American Fugitive Seeks Asylum in Russia
  22. Russia Assists with Chemical Weapons Investigation in Syria
  23. Multiple Bombings Raise Fears for Olympics
  24. Russia Annexes Crimea, Experiences Economic Fallout Due to Sanctions
  25. Putin Signs Gas Accord with China, Begins Eurasian Union
2011 Parliamentary Elections Spark Massive Protests

The Dec. 4, 2011 parliamentary elections sparked protests, mainly from middle-class Russians. International and local monitors condemned the election as fraudulent. United Russia, the party led by Putin, came out on top in the elections, receiving nearly 50 percent of the vote, but they lost 77 seats. Monitors said that United Russia would have lost more seats were it not for ballot-box stuffing and voting irregularities. For example, videos, some taken with cellphones, surfaced on the internet showing local authorities threatening subordinates at polling stations.

The height of the protests came on Dec. 10, when over 40,000 Russians rallied near the Kremlin. It was the largest anti-Kremlin protest since the early 1990s and approved by city authorities, although riot police were on hand. The activists called for Putin's resignation and denounced the election results. Three minority parties in Parliament also complained about the election's outcome, but they were all at odds over what to do about it. President Medvedev called for an inquiry into the election fraud. Meanwhile Putin accused the United States, singling out Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, for instigating the demonstrations when she criticized conduct during the parliamentary elections.

On Dec. 12, billionaire industrialist Mikhail D. Porkhorov announced that he planned to run for president against Putin in 2012. Porkhorov owns many businesses in Russia as well as the New Jersey Nets, the NBA franchise, in the United States. In his announcement, Porkhorov said, "I made a decision, probably the most serious decision in my life: I am going to the presidential election." Many observers questioned if Porkhorov was truly challenging Putin or if he had Putin's approval to run to create an air of legitimacy to the race.

On Dec. 24, around 80,000 people in Moscow protested against the recent parliamentary election. It was the biggest demonstration yet and the first with two high-level figures in attendance. Aleksei L. Kudrin, a former Finance Minister and member of Putin's inner circle, gave a speech in which he expressed his support for the protestors' demands. Mikhail D. Porkhorov, who still plans to run for president against Putin, was also in the crowd. Three days later, Prime Minister Putin ruled out a redo of the election, which has been the protestors' chief demand.

In Jan. 2012, the opposition movement prepared for more protests and formed an alliance with Russian nationalists. Even though Russian liberals had been wary of nationalism as a threat to stability and freedom for over twenty years, they felt like an alliance was needed to drive out Putin. How much the nationalists would help the protestors remains unclear. The next large demonstrations were planned for Feb. 4 and March 11, 2012.

Next: Russia Blocks U.N. Action in Syria
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