Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Friday, 16 October 2009 17:38 UK

Democracy loses support in Russia

A crowd in St Petersburg, Russia. File photo
More than 40% of respondents said Russia needed "an iron fist" leader

A growing number of Russians believe their country does not need democracy, a nationwide survey by one of Russia's leading polling agencies suggests.

The poll by the Levada-Centre showed that 57% of those questioned considered that Russia needed democracy - the lowest number since 2006.

It said 26% believed that democratic governing was not suitable for Russia.

Nearly 95% of respondents said they had little or no influence on what was happening in the country.

'Rigged' election

Levada-Centre said 1,600 people across Russia had been questioned in the poll which was released on Friday.

Russian police detain demonstrators in Moscow. Photo: 16 October 2009
Russian police dispersed a protest rally in Moscow, arresting some activists

Although the majority of them believe the country needs to be democratic, the results of the survey are an intriguing mix, the BBC's Richard Galpin in Moscow says.

The majority (60%) also said it would be better for Russia if the president controlled both the courts and the parliament, which can hardly be described as a democratic aspiration, our correspondent says.

The poll also suggested that 43% agreed with the question that the country sometimes needed an "iron fist" leader.

And nearly 25% said the Soviet Union had a better political system that the current Russian model (36%) or that in Western countries (15%).

The poll came as Russian police arrested 10 people in Moscow who were protesting against an alleged fraud in last weekend's regional and local elections.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party tightened its already overwhelming grip on power after the polls, our correspondent says.

But three parties walked out of parliament earlier this week, protesting against the outcome of the elections. Two later returned, but the Communists are continuing their boycott.

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