Putin putting Russian “band” back together?

There are charges of fraud, intimidation, suppressing the vote, and an attempt to stay in power beyond the limit of the term he was elected to. No, we’re not talking about Bill Clinton’s hoped-for puppet presidency through his wife, or about the Bush-Gore or Bush-Kerry election showdowns.

This time, the dirty politics is taking place in a location most folks who remember the 1980s will recognize as a home to real political corruption and dictatorship: Russia.

Vladimir Putin, whose term at Russian president comes to an end in March 2008 on paper, seems to have his political machine well-stocked in body shop supplies and running smooth as silk, as he prepares for Parliamentary elections that promise to sweep him into a United Russia party leadership position that could keep him at the helm long after a new Russian president is selected next spring.

Former chess champion Garry Kasparov has warned that Putin’s pre-election moves bear all the signs of setting up a dictatorship and a puppet presidency, similar to what transpired in the pre-Glastnost Soviet Union, prior to the fall of the Soviet empire. Only time will tell if his words bear the hallmarks of truth. Is the old Soviet band back together?

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