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• The authorities made some efforts to ensure that electoral fraud in the presidential election was not as blatant as in the parliamentary election

• There were many reports of abuses and the Russian system remains profoundly undemocratic, but Vladimir Putin was the most popular candidate

• Russia’s economic problems, closely linked to the country’s politics, are severe.

• In the longer term it is difficult to see how the problems can be addressed without profound reform, particularly to ensure the rule of law and the protection of individual rights

• Russian corruption makes that reform very difficult to achieve, but popular dissent is unlikely to go away

• A weaker Putin may resort to foreign policy to demonstrate strength and appeal to nationalistic support: this may make relations with western countries more difficult in the coming years.

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