Here in America we're squawking over how the Democrats gamed the open primary system to pick the Republican nominee and how the Republicans are trying to keep Hillary in the race through the same method, with the result being the only sure thing about November's election will be whoever wins they'll totally suck. They pull the same crap over in Russia. Big surprise.
The party Putin supports, United Russia, won 99.4% of the vote in December's 2007 Duma (think Senate) elections. Voter turnout was 99.5%. I got those numbers from an open letter written to Putin and Vladimir Churov, head of the election Comission, by Sergei Kovalev, a human rights advocate and candidate for an opposing party. http://hro1.org/node/1295 (check out his sign-off. Use it on someone.) United Russia is the media's favorite party. Wonder why. [Ahem? Mainstream Media, anyone? Why are they so mad about Hill, anyway?] Russia's main political parties like to give the impression they're in opposition but if you're Joe Voter you know what you're really going to get. [And so do we.] Public relations are also managed through the formation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are quietly funded by Putin and whose purpose is to draw attention and resources away from legitimate and troublesome organizations that speak out against Putin. [George Soros much? MoveOn? Daily Kos?] Yeah, Putin's not in charge anymore. But he arranged for his BFF Hill--er, Dmitry Medvedev to take his spot, so he'll still be running the show. Kind of a 'Two for One" deal. During the campaign Medvedev did most of his public appearances with Putin. [well? WELL?] They were really good; when Medvedev spoke you could hardly see Putin's lips move.
Would it be OK if we found a better model to follow than this?