MOSCOW — The Russian government, with its solid hold on power, has invariably gotten away with poor performance, inefficiency, corruption and widespread violation of political rights and civil liberties.

Polls consistently demonstrate that the Russian people are not deluded: They routinely respond in surveys that government officials are corrupt and self-serving. More than 80 percent of Russians, according to a poll conducted last summer, believe that “many civil servants practically defy the law.”

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