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Russians On Ukraine Elections, Dagestan And The Kremlin, Law Protested

An elderly couple studies the ballot at the westernmost polling station in Ukraine
An elderly couple studies the ballot at the westernmost polling station in Ukraine

Ukrainian Elections Viewed From Moscow

RFE/RL discusses Sunday’s presidential elections in Ukraine with several prominent Russians:

Alexei Ostrovsky, chairman of the State Duma’s Committee for CIS Affairs, who monitored the polls, says he was surprised by the high turnout and that the delegation did not register any election irregularities.

Sergei Markov, State Duma deputy (United Russia) believes that the real battle, and the real chance of irregularities, will be in the second round. “Unfortunately, there is a possibility that it won’t be voters who ultimately decide the outcome,” he says.

Boris Nemtsov, co-chairman of the Solidarity movement, says Viktor Yushchenko is the Ukrainian Boris Yeltsin, with some subtle differences. “He [Yushchenko] defended Ukraine’s independence and did everything for Ukraine to become a free, democratic country... His main achievement is that people are not afraid to speak out,” he says.

[read in Russian]

Kremlin's Control Of Dagestan Questioned

The expiration of Dagestani President Mukhu Aliyev’s term on February 20 is raising questions about the Kremlin's plans in the region and its ability to command the situation there.

Enver Kisriyev, head of the Caucasus section of the Center for Civilization and Regional Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, is skeptical about the ability of the Kremlin to exert control in Dagestan. “First and foremost, there is a delusion that one person, even with good professional qualities, can resolve the systematic problems of Dagestan," he tells RFE/RL. "I’m amazed about how such a delusion could be so popular in a post-Marxist society. How can one person manage a society in which laws practically don’t apply and where matters are decided by brute force and in which family and clan bonds are paramount?”

[read in Russian]

'State! Don’t Be Afraid Of The People'

The group Left Front (Levy front) organized a rally on January 16 called “State! Don’t Be Afraid of the People” to protest a proposed law that would ban the blocking of roads during public protests.

Co-leader of the group Sergei Udaltsov said he believes such planned restrictions on the right to protest stem from Russian leadership's fears widespread social unrest. Ilya Yashin, a co-chairman of the Solidarity opposition movement that supported the rally, tells RFE/RL that the proposed law augurs poorly for the future. "This legislation is in fact aimed against the most ordinary citizens of Russia who have serious problems. Thus, the leadership is demonstrating that it isn’t willing to tackle these problems, but is poised to become increasingly repressive,” he says.

[read in Russian]