Shocked Putin greeted with boos and jeers at the big fight

It's the end of an era, claims blogger, as Russia's Prime Minister faces a hostile reception

Moscow

It was not the kind of reception that Vladimir Putin is used to. As the Russian Prime Minister stepped into the ring at Moscow's Olympic Stadium to congratulate Fedor Emelianenko, the winner of a martial arts clash on Sunday evening, boos and whistles rang out in the arena.

A moment of shock flickered across his face as he registered what was happening, before he regained his composure and carried on as normal. Nobody can remember anything like it happening before, and one blogger called it "the end of an era". The frosty reception from thousands of ordinary Russians will raise further alarm that discontent with Russia's ruling elite and Mr Putin himself is growing, ahead of elections in a fortnight's time.

The parliamentary elections on 4 December will set the stage for March presidential elections, in which Mr Putin has said he will stand, ending a four-year break during which he moved to the prime ministerial post but remained the most powerful man in the country. In the absence of a credible opposition and with control of the airwaves, Mr Putin is guaranteed to win, but analysts say his support is sliding, and offer the booing as the latest piece of evidence.

Mr Putin's supporters rushed to offer explanations for the hostile reception. Some said it was meant for the defeated American fighter Jeff Monson, who was leaving the arena just as Mr Putin appeared on the scene.

Others, less plausibly, claimed that the whistling was due to the fact that many of the crowd needed to go to the toilet. But in a telling sign, state-controlled television, which showed the fight and Mr Putin's speech live, edited out the whistling and played a more neutral crowd soundtrack during repeats of the speech. A video of the incident with whistling and booing clearly audible, garnered over half a million hits on YouTube within 24 hours.

Polls show Mr Putin's approval ratings, while still high, have slipped by several percentage points since he announced that he planned to return to the Kremlin two months ago. Experts say that after 12 years in charge, his promise of political stability and his macho image may hold less appeal. There have also been voices of discontent over the preparations for next month's parliamentary elections, with allegations of pressure and fraud to ensure that Mr Putin's United Russia wins a respectable majority.

Another clip doing the rounds on the Russian blogosphere is a speech given in parliament last week by the MP Gennady Gudkov. "Our elections are a mix of abuse of administrative resources and work going ahead at full speed to ensure falsification," Mr Gudkov alleged, in a short but fiery speech that was unusual for Russia's rubber-stamp parliament, once famously described as "not a place for discussion".

Mr Gudkov, an MP from the Just Russia party, continued with accusations that doctors, teachers and other state workers are being forced to vote for Mr Putin's United Russia.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam