President Vladimir Putin is fixing the Russian electoral system so that his party cannot fail to win. But, as Neil Buckley observes in Saturday's FT, "even the Kremlin's staunchest critics do not believe poll-rigging is needed to ensure victory for the pro-Putin party." So why is Putin so afraid of chess champion Gary Kasparov and other marginal players? Because, in their heart of hearts, they fear that they will be caught at their tricks and turned back at the polls. This should not be mistaken for the voice of conscience.