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Putin risks losing Moscow

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On August 10, opposition supporters held a mass protests in the Russian capital, Moscow, for the fifth consecutive weekend. The current wave of protests was triggered by the decision of the electoral commission to disqualify opposition candidates from running in the elections for the Moscow City Duma, a powerless legislative body that rubber stamps Mayor Sergey Sobianin's policies.

While organisers of the previous two demonstrations were not able to obtain official permits from the municipality to hold them, which resulted in a mass crackdown, this Saturday, the demonstration was authorised and attracted a large crowd of between 50,000 and 60,000 people.

That made it the second-largest rally since the height of the 2011-2012 Bolotnaya protests which were triggered by the rigged Duma election in December 2011. It was in reaction to those enormous demonstrations that President Vladimir Putin took an extremely harsh stance on the Maidan revolution in the Ukraine, eventually occupying Crimea and starting a war in eastern Ukraine. For several years it seemed that he had succeeded in outsourcing domestic political confrontation to the neighbouring country. His popularity ratings soared, while the opposition appeared divided and marginalised.

It is quite symbolic that when tens of thousands poured into the streets of Moscow on Saturday, Putin chose to be in Crimea, still holding on to the legitimacy it gave him five years ago. But the nationalistic fervour over the annexation of the peninsula has worn off by now and the president appears to be back at square one. Today his approval ratings are back to what they were in the........

© Al Jazeera