Mr. Speaker, last Saturday we witnessed great public discontent throughout Russia. In Moscow, approximately 40,000 people protested amid reports of widespread voter fraud during Russia's parliamentary elections.
The heart of this democratic movement is Alexey Navalny, an impressive young man whose activism against fraud, corruption and the creative use of social media have inspired a flourish of democratic activity that Russia has not seen since the fall of Communism. For organizing this and other peaceful protests, Alexey was arrested on December 5 and sentenced to 15 days for obstructing traffic. This laughable charge did not discourage him from pressing on to ensure that Russia does not slide back into the dark authoritarianism that punished her people and terrorized her neighbours for most of the 20th century.
The resolve of the protestors had an impact. On Sunday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that he will order an official inquiry into the handling of the elections. While many Russians are skeptical, I am relieved that Mr. Navalny will be there to monitor the process when he is released from prison. This cannot happen soon enough.