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Democracy in Russia ebbing away....

The Washington Post reports on how so-called democarcy in Russia is slipping away under President Putin's leadership. What is happening in Russia won't come as a surprise to any observer of Russian politics - and who remembers that Putin was, after all, a KGB operative.

"Give the elections back to the people, bastards!" These words were emblazoned on a bright yellow banner more than 30 feet long that hung over the Moscow River facing the Kremlin. A couple of young activists positioned themselves in the ropework holding up the banner for about 30 minutes, until they were taken off and delivered to a police station.

Such extravagant political performances may be typical at, say, a Greenpeace protest but not over something that has in fact become increasingly common: a government encroachment on voting rights.

Russia is undergoing yet another round of election-rule tightening -- as usual, a product of the country's rubber-stamp legislature. The protesters see it as marking the "virtual elimination of the system of free elections" in Russia, as they said in their statement. Over the past two years, election rules have been repeatedly refashioned and readjusted so that no undesired forces or figures can slip through the process."

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