While most Russians have enjoyed more economic security under Vladimir Putin, his critics argue that this is at the expense of democatic freedoms and political debate.
Staunch critic of President Putin, Mikhail Kasyanov, has been barred from standing as an opposition candidate in the March elections in Russia. His staff have been subject to intimidation.
Mr Kasyanov would have been the only liberal running for the presidency.
Speculation over the deaths of other opponents to Mr Putin such as journalist Anna Politkovskaya and former security officer Alexander Litvinenko suggests that they had made enemies in the Kremlin.
Putin allies control much of the media, and opposition voices are not allowed on television.
In the 1990s all manner of opinion found its voice in Russia, not just in parliament but in the media. Support for politicians in opposition to Putin is dwindling. Those politicians blame a clampdown on the country's media, but are to blame for the state of Russia democracy themselves?
Listen to Allan Little on the state of opposition in Russia
The man with responsibility for overseeing human rights in Russia is Vladimir Lukin, the official ombudsman for human rights.
So, according to the Russian government, is press freedom under threat in Russia?
Listen to an interview with Vladimir Lukin
Allan Little speaks to Grigory Yavlinsky, the leader of the Yabloko party, one of Russia's two main liberal opposition groups.
What does he make of an assertion by Sergei Markov - that President Putin has taken some of the opposition's policies and incorporated them into his own programme?
Listen to an interview with Grigory Yavlinsky
Susanna Pechura is 74; when she was 16, she was arrested by the KGB and spent 25 years in a gulag. She is also a member of 'Memorial', a society which tracks victims of Soviet-era repression.
She spoke to Clare Arnold for Outlook.
Listen to an interview with Susanna Pechura
From BBC News.com
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