In a well-honed quid pro quo, the compliments came pouring into the Kremlin on December 5 and 6: As protestors in Moscow denounced evidently rigged parliamentary elections, Russia’s friends in the Commonwealth of Independent States, a group of former Soviet republics, sent congratulatory messages to the country’s ruling tandem -- Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin.
As a rule, Russia’s allies in Central Asia don’t challenge the Kremlin on domestic elections. In return, they expect the same courtesy, and several regional clubs dutifully sign off on local poll results, no matter what outsiders say.
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David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.