RealNews

Putin Leaves Little to Chance in Voting

With regional elections Sunday from St. Petersburg to Siberia, Russians are entering what promises to be a year of ballots choreographed to ensure a smooth succession and enable President Vladimir Putin to keep a hand on the steering wheel even after he steps down. Barred by the constitution from seeking a third straight term in March 2008, Putin has strongly hinted he will choose a favored successor and continue to wield influence, and he evidently wants to leave little to chance: the system in place for regional elections, and national parliamentary balloting in December, has been shaped by the Kremlin in ways that critics say have rolled back democracy. Full Story

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