Currently, it is a pretty established fact that Russia isn't a democracy. According to the vast majority of American news sources covering last year's Russian elections there, they are fake. However, the Russian Constitution ostensibly is one of a democracy, from what I know of it. I know that Putin has made major changes to the Constitution.

Did the modern Russian Federation ever work as a democracy? Or, since it replaced the Soviet Union, has it always had fake elections, not-great human rights, etc?

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    It's a bit amusing that "news sources" of a country with incomplete democracy claiming other countries aren't being democratic. So I wonder: to which definition of democracy do you reffer? – miep Aug 23 at 6:32
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    By the way, although I have no doubt that elections are not fair in Russia, I do feel Putin is still genuinely popular enough to win fairly. – Display name Aug 23 at 6:58
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    I'm inclined to vote to close as not asked in good faith - it assumes that Russia isn't a democracy. What is fair (this word is so loaded) to one person might not be fair to another. Plus, as Orangesandlemons points out above, Putin is genuinely popular enough that it's very conceivable he'd win a "fair" general election anyway. – Allure Aug 23 at 8:31
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    Putin would definitely win a fair election. The thing is, it seems as though he cheats in spite of that. Possibly to ensure he won't lose a fair election in a decade or two. – Obie 2.0 Aug 23 at 9:19
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    Defacto there is at least 150-200 years long confrontation between some western countries and Russian Empire\Soviet Union\Russian federation called a Big Game by British writer R. Kipling. The reasons are different but the result is next: you'll never get any true or close to true situation about Russia in English speaking\ western resources. They all are based and were based for centuries. It doesn't mean that all is OK, but each country has own problems and own way. So, if you want to know more, you need different resource. Not English. – Artem G Aug 23 at 15:18

If we use the Democracy Index to quantify the level of democracy in a country, the answer would be no in the time from 2006 till today. The main problems nowadays in Russia are:

  • limited freedom of press
  • suppression of opposition
  • no protection or even prosecution of minorities
  • missing equality of people, for example prosecution of homosexuals
  • probably rigged elections

Sadly, I have no data prior to 2006 right now, but I assume that Russia never was a "full democracy". But by this definition, neither is the US.


The 1996 election, the first since the breakup of the Soviet Union, was the only Presidential election that went to a runoff. Boris Yeltsin finished with the most votes, but far short of a majority. He faced Gennady Zyuganov in the second round, and won by a 54-41 margin (with 5% voting "against all").

All subsequent elections were won by the incumbents (or their hand-picked successors) in the first round:

  • 2000: 53% Putin
  • 2004: 71% Putin
  • 2008: 71% Medvedev
  • 2012: 64% Putin
  • 2018: 77% Putin
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    Just looking at election results isn't necessarily a proof of undemocratic elections. You have to look at how those results came to be. Was the media independent from the government? Was the opposition allowed to organize and campaign without government interference? Was the voting done in a fair way? Were there no notable irregularities during the count? – Philipp Aug 22 at 22:13
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    I'm sorry, but 1996 elections were nearly fully falcificated by the US. Without US support, Zyuganov would just won in the first tour. There even was a TIME journal about it – user2501323 Aug 23 at 5:58
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    @user2501323 If you can find that article, it would make for a very interesting answer. – divibisan Aug 23 at 18:02
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    @KeithMcClary, exactly.) I've done answer around that, but it was removed as opinion-based and non-answering. – user2501323 Sep 3 at 5:55

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