RFE/RL, February 29, 2012
Imprisoned Russian ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is calling on opponents of Vladimir Putin's rule to avoid the radicalization of peaceful protests and internal divisions if they want to remain a possible future political alternative in Russia.
Khodorkovsky made his call in an article published on February 29 in Russia's "Kommersant" newspaper -- just days before the March 4 election in which Putin is expected to win a third term as president.
In his article, Khodorkovsky argues that if voters deny Putin victory in the first round, forcing a runoff, this would in itself signal an end to what he calls the "monopoly of power" in Russia.
Russian opinion polls have shown Putin's opponents in the presidential contest trailing far behind the prime minister, with none rising above 15 percent.
Khodorkovsky says the mass protests sparked by evidence of fraud in the December parliamentary election have changed the balance of power in Russia and destroyed what he calls the "myth" of Putin as a guarantor of stability and of the lack of alternative to his rule.
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Khodorkovsky Calls On Russian Opposition To Avoid Radicalization, Division