Russian democracy dates back centuries, and all elections in Russia are direct. Its political institutions could serve as an example for other countries, particularly the United States.
The claim advances a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative of Russian superiority over the West - which is often portrayed as in decay.
According to the OSCE, Russia's most recent presidential election "took place in an overly controlled legal and political environment marked by continued pressure on critical voices," and was accompanied by "restrictions on the fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression" (p. 1). The organisation also reported that the most recent parliamentary election, held in 2016, was "negatively affected by restrictions to fundamental freedoms and political rights, firmly controlled media and a tightening grip on civil society" (p. 1).
The level of democratic freedoms in Russia has been steadily declining since the 1990s. In 2005, Freedom House changed Russia's classification from "partly free" to "not free," due to "the virtual elimination of influential political opposition parties within the country and the further concentration of executive power" (p. 519). By 2021, according to the watchdog's criteria, Russia had scored only 5 points out of 40 in the "Political Rights" section, including 0 points out of 12 in the "Electoral Process" sub-section.