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Getting On One’s Nerves

It is often mentioned in a bantering fashion that the Leaders in Opposition are either arrested or killed in Russia. Incumbent Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny made such a comment on August 19, 2020, and the very next day, he was on the verge of death due to poisoning! The 44-year-old Navalny has made a steady recovery after getting treated in Germany for more than a month. The German doctors have confirmed that a nerve agent, called ‘Novichok‘, was applied to him. It is to be noted that the name Novichok means ‘newcomer’ in Russian, and applies to a group of advanced nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970’s and 1980’s. They were known as fourth-generation chemical weapons and were reportedly developed under a Soviet programme, codenamed as Foliant. As expected, the Kremlin has denied the allegation.

Alexei Navalny

However, there is a growing sense of uneasiness among the concerned Russian authorities. In the local Assembly in Tomsk, the city where Navalny was attacked, President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party has lost the majority of seats. Navalny’s popularity has increased in neighbouring Novosibirsk, too! In fact, Opposition candidates have won elections in this region, partly due to the lack of Central control. Moreover, the method of selecting regional leaders is completely opposite. It may be seen that the Ruling Party Candidates have won more than 70% of votes, where the Kremlin had full control. The members of an election-observation team have alleged that the ruling United Russia Party fielded fake candidates in the Regional Elections in Tomsk and Novosibirsk. However, the voters have made it clear that they have lost faith in President Putin and in his party.

President Putin’s popularity has sharply declined in recent times. According to a recent survey, the people’s trust in him has decreased by 23% since the last election. The observers are of the opinion that the Authoritarian Control of his Administration grows, along with the anti-Government Political Solidarity at the grassroots level. The youth-force in Russia is most dissatisfied with Putin’s rule. It is because a whole generation has not seen a leader, other than Putin! The ensuing Political Stagnation has made them exhausted… One can remember the days of Leonid Brezhnev (December 19, 1906 – November 10, 1982) during the Soviet Era. The Era of Stagnation had signalled the fall of the Socialist System.

President Putin

Many fear that President Putin might pre-pone the Legislative Elections, if he realises that his strategy would not work. Interestingly, the change of schedule did not prevent his party’s defeat in 2019 Local Polls in Moscow. As per the recent trend, the young people in Russia are getting more and more involved in politics! The Belarusian Movement has taught them that if there is no opportunity to express free opinion through the ballot papers, then it is imperative that the people start looking for an alternative process. President Putin’s Iron Curtain Rule might create many a trouble for him in the near future. This is not applicable for Putin only, but also for all the authoritarian rulers across the Globe. The tougher the rule is, the anger of the people gets to become more multifaceted… this is the strength of Democracy!

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