As is common with many in media we subscribe to President Medvedev’s page on Vkontake. In and of itself that is no special deal as anyone can subscribe to the President or many of the opposition leaders with just a simple click. However in days past one could have argued the dangers of allowing authorities to easily see others with whom you associate or in this case “follow” on a public forum, but these days it seems as if the opposition has less and less fear of such exposure.
A new organization aimed at unifying the opposition has been co-founded by mega-blogger Rustem Adagamov (LiveJournal “другой“) along with a group of well-respected of opposition members. Their website, in Russian language only at this point, is http://ligaizbirateley.ru and the stated aim of the group is to provide a unified voice to the opposition in order to fight potential fraud in the coming Russian presidential elections on 04 March.
Given the immediate level of interest among the general popular and opposition leaders, the formation of the group has apparently caught the attention of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. This is the same Prime Minister who in his nationwide call-in show derided the opposition as being a joke. He went so far as to label protesters white lapel ribbons as “condoms” only to later plead that it was an honest mistake. Poor vision or perhaps a case of poor judgment?
The same Mr. Putin declared recently that it would be senseless to meet or debate opposition leaders because it would be an unfair conversation, implying that his knowledge was vastly superior to any who would challenge his views.
“Well, surprise, surprise” as Gomer Pyle used to say, Mr. Putin is ready to meet the opposition. Did that unfair advantage just disappear into thin air or is there too much heat directed at a certain man who offices in that tall Белый дом (White House) on Moscow’s Krasnopresnenskaya embankment? After all, these are the same folk who organized the successful protest rallies, called митинги (meetings) in Russian, in December and include well recognized names such as rock music legend Yury Shevchuk, millionaire businessman Georgy Vasilyev and TV host Leonid Parfyonov.
Mr. Putin is fast learning that the opposition is not a laughing matter. In fact, if he fails to respond quickly to genuine changes the joke will be on him, regardless of who wins in March. Last year he was shocked when a group of young people openly booed him at a sporting event and on Christmas Eve in his liturgy shown nationwide on TV from the nation’s main Cathedral, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill warned authorities to listen to the wishes of the people. Mr. Putin was not present, but President Medvedev was in attendance with his family for the Christmas liturgy.
Meanwhile the Moscow Times is reporting that The European Court of Human Rights has agreed to hear a complaint from a group of Saint Petersburg voters regarding alleged fraud at 130 polling stations during the recent Duma elections of December 4.