Russian President Medvedev announces limited recount of contested Duma elections
Dmitry Medvedev, in the wake of protests by thousands of Russians, announced over the weekend that the results of the Dec. 4 parliamentary elections would be recounted. But the election, which many western observers pronounced as fraudulent, also may be the reason that Vladimir Putin will face a new and stronger challenger in the upcoming presidential election.
A week of protests in Russia have forced President Dmitry Medvedev to agree to a review of bitterly contested parliamentary elections.
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Moscow over the weekend in protests and on Sunday, Medvedev agreed to investigate perceived improprieties in the elections. Monitors from the European Union and United States described irregularities including ballot box stuffing.
Medvedev made his announcement on Facebook, saying there would be investigations into allegations of voter fraud.
"He had no other choice because he has brought everything to extremes. If he didn't make a decision to do it, trust in him would have absolutely fallen, which it practically already has. I'd say in many cities, people don't trust him at all. All of whom I talk to and know," said one demonstrator as he stood on relatively quiet streets in Russia Sunday night.
Medvedev's own party, United Russia, held onto a slender parliamentary majority despite all indications it would lose its majority entirety. It's also the party of former president Vladimir Putin, who is running to reclaim the presidency in an election next year.
And while some opposition political leaders think a recount in places where fraud is alleged may be enough to prevent United Russia from claiming a majority in the Duma, the Russian legislature, some on the streets want a complete do-over on the election.
"Probably, it would be better to organize a new state Duma election, to do it once again," one woman said.
So far, there's no sign that will happen. But the turmoil has given room for a new, and perhaps more powerful, opponent of Putin to step forward. Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov, who owns part of the NBA's New Jersey Nets, has been a political leader in Russia for a long time, but fell out of favor with the Kremlin this summer.