Though democratic processes are codified by law in Russia, government limitations on opposition activity and efforts to control nearly every aspect of political life have rendered elections largely a formality. Without an opposition able to operate effectively, the Kremlin enjoys carte blanche to define policy and maintain power. For nearly two decades, the United Russia party has dominated Russian politics as an instrument of President Vladimir Putin's control. The system known in Russia as "managed democracy," under which opposition activity is heavily suppressed, has made this possible. Taking control of the media narrative plus creating new parties to draw away votes from the opposition will be key to Putins ability to retain power....
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