Moscow has noted the increasing occurrence of popular uprisings triggered by corruption and election fraud in states of the former Soviet Union. While some view these events in Georgia, Ukraine, and most recently Kyrgyzstan as a warning to Russian political elites that the same could happen there, most analysts agree that such is not likely. Russia most certainly suffers from the same levels of political and economic corruption that seems to have been a major precipitating factor in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution and similar uprisings in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. However, in contrast to these countries Russia’s political elite is largely united around the current system. In the absence of an alternative political force able and willing to mobilize the citizenry against the current regime, an uprising is highly unlikely.
This may be one of the reasons that Putin imprisoned the former owner of Yukos Oil whose “sin” was making open threats of financing an opposition party. It is almost certainly behind the recent assertion of Gleb Pavlovskii (head of the Effective Politics Foundation) that Putin must use force against any challenges to election results. In the same venue, he called on the Russian president to ensure against divisions within Russia’s ruling class, particularly those that might be fueled by foreign foundations. Pavlovskii had in mind non-governmental organizations that Moscow increasingly sees as serving US interests in fomenting and organizing popular uprisings around popular opposition figures to unseat corrupt regimes.