According to The Economist (The cracks appear):

"Putin still seems pretty popular, with approval ratings of around 40%.

"Nothing is likely to stop him winning the presidency in March."

There have been allegations of vote rigging in the recent parliamentary elections in Russia.

According to The Economist (Russia's election: Losing their grip):

"Opinion pollsters say that across the country this kind of rigging rarely changes the outcome by much more than 5%.

"The irony is that United Russia could probably have won 45% of the vote anyway."

The main opposition party in Russia is the Communist party.

The CIA may want them to return to power.

A former Indian ambassador, M K Bhadrakumar, at Asia Times, has recently written about Russia.

Bear nettles the eagle, dragon smiles /Bear nettles the eagle, dragon smiles

From this we learn:

1. Putin's United Russia has just won 238 seats in Russia's 450-member parliament.

2. Putin has alleged that 'hundreds of millions' of foreign money was used to influence Russia's elections.

3. China is supporting Putin.

China and Russia are supporting Assad in Syria.

"The Russian-Chinese coordination is at an all-time high level. Their 'joint' veto in the United Nations Security Council over the resolution regarding Syria has no parallel."

4. China and Russia are blocking the US moves to impose additional sanctions on Iran.

5. China and Russia both oppose US-NATO military bases in Afghanistan.