Russia's elections are not intended to produce surprises, just as its streets are not meant to heave with protesters and its political leaders are not supposed to be publicly booed. The country’s “managed democracy”, with the media muzzled, only tame opposition candidates allowed and widespread vote-rigging, is designed to hand big victories to Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party. Yet the Duma election on December 4th produced an upset: United Russia’s share of the vote fell from 64% to under 50%, giving it only a slim majority. Even more remarkably, demonstrators took to the streets in the biggest protests Russia has seen in years, chanting “Russia without Putin” before troops poured in to stop them
The authorities agreed to allow Saturday's demonstrations to go ahead following negotiations with opposition leaders.
The two sides reached a deal in which Moscow would allow a high-turnout if the rally was relocated from downtown Revolution Square to Bolotnaya Square, a narrow island in the Moscow River.
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