Putin Protesters Eye Russia's Soviet Days

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MOSCOW -- There are serious questions about the level of support for Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Recently, the former Russian president has seen thousands of protesters take to the streets demanding an end to his party's political reign.

Frustrations are high and some are openly talking about a return to the old days of the Soviet Union.

December was supposed to be a joyous month. Twenty years ago, in December 1991, the Soviet empire collapsed.

"I wasn't born then," a Russian woman said. "Everyone had hoped that it would usher in a better future, but so far it hasn't."

CBN News spoke with Sergey Rakhuba of Russian Ministries, a group that works with churches in Russia to spread the gospel. Click play for his comments on how these protests are affecting the country.

This past weekend, tens of thousands marched in some 70 cities across the country protesting against alleged parliamentary vote rigging. It was the biggest public show of discontent in post-Soviet Russia.

"I don't agree with the results of the elections at all," one protester said. "I would say, for the first time in my life I am not indifferent to what is going on in politics."

And the political dissatisfaction is growing. Opposition dissidents have dubbed Putin's United Russia group "the party of crooks and thieves" -- and they want him out.

"I would not call this election simply an election, but a referendum on the people's trust of the authorities and Putin as well," one man said.

On the streets of Moscow you wouldn't be hard pressed to find people who say they long for the old days of the Soviet empire.

"Sure life was difficult back then, but there wasn't the kind of political corruption we see today," an older Russian man said. "This is the thing that makes me very sad about the situation in Russia today."

Twenty years after the fall of communism, it's not uncommon to see souvenir stores selling knick-knacks from that time period.

"All the items from those days are very popular among both tourists and locals," one store manager said. "Many people remember the history of communism and the greatness of the Soviet Union and in some ways wish for those days again."

The mass protests here have been compared to the so-called Arab Spring in the Middle East.

But could this lead to lasting change in Russia? Most experts say not likely.

Russia's president has promised to push ahead with some political reforms. But the opposition isn't convinced the changes will be meaningful.

Another big demonstration is planned for Dec. 24.

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