1) Public opinion polls, including independent ones by the Levada-Center, very pretty close to the official elections results. Which makes allegations of fraud dubious for me. I prefer to trust statistics, than emotions. The elections were free and fair -- for me; as a 1986-born, I've seen no better. Sorry. And if you want some scholarly opinion, look no farther than Stephen Cohen: "though these elections were not free and fair, they were the freest and fairest in 15 years" http://www.democracynow.org/2011/12/30/election_fraud_galvanizes_russian_opposition_communist
2) And albeit it's a trivial defense, I really do not care that much about speech freedom and such. I care more about economical fairness. Why medical nurses are so low-paid, stuff like that. You can see the my pol. views via the political compass: http://evagen.livejournal.com/39052.html
What I really care about is freedom of conscience. I can tolerate the situation where I either cannot say something or I could but my voice would not count. But I cannot tolerate the situation when I am forced to say something I do not want to say. That speaks about freedom of conscience, rather than freedom of speech. As for speech freedom, I help my friends to run an independent political website, which is fine for me.
The more serious criticism of your comment is:
1) I do not care if personally you take any steps to support those in Russia who want more rights. But when you hire the Government of the U.S. to do that job it's an entirely different beast. First, the U.S. state is not accountable to a citizen of Russia like me. Overall, the U.S. Government is a very weak parody on the world government, and shouldn't attempt fixing things it's not supposed to take care of. Second, there's no way for an ordinary U.S. citizen to verify claims made by the U.S. Government in regards of the Russian stuff, which leaves the open way for a massive disinformation campaign which currently takes place.
2) "all the while supplying a broken Russian Army with arms and equipment" which is very well, but the Soviet Government has paid your country for that equipment, which makes it an ordinary business deal for you, rather than a sacrifice or donation as you have implied. Yes, the U.S. had some good business deals with us during the WWII, which is very well but why should we be grateful?
Although there are a lot of Putin's critics in Russia, yet, a good part of the population (over 60% per Levada Center polls) actually support him.
Personally, I voted for Putin. And not just because I love him so much (I do not), but because the opposition is too weak. And it's weak not because its leaders are being jailed (they are not), but because they do not understand demands of folks like me.
Lastly, although I understand that you are a victim of Western MSM propaganda, I find attacks on the President of my country personally offensive. Like it or not, but VVP was elected by over 60% of voters who took part in the election. Either you in the West accept this little fact, or Russia would be better off with China.
I ask you: This is not fun. Attacks on Putin do not help anybody. Please, stop.
Yes, Saudis are your best friends. You even allow them to hijack planes in order to destroy skyscrapers. But, of course, your problem is Putin, Syria, Gaddafi, you name it. Cool that you have an ideology which allows you to tell good from bad, without the need to consider the entire picture.
The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.