As I mentioned in previous posts about the color revolutions, the US subsidizing parties in the former communist countries through its NED (National Endowment for Democracy). Other Western organizations (political parties, Soros, etc) are doing the same. Although there is nothing wrong with explaining to newly democratic countries how democracy is supposed to work in practice this means that "pro-Western" parties are supported while parties that are despised as "nationalist" or "pro-Russian" or "communist" are not. So in fact we are buying votes - exactly the reason why nearly all Western democracies frown upon or forbid foreign donations to their political parties.
Now it looks like the Russians are learning the game too. The following is a fragment from a story about Moldova:
There will be an election Nov. 28. The country has billboards with various candidates all around and rallies throughout the country. Western nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are there. Some are funded, we were told, by the American National Endowment for Democracy, others supported by NATO and so on. The Russians, too, have learned the NGO gambit from the West by watching the various color revolutions. Russian-supported NGOs are in the country, and as one journalist told me, they are serving wine and cheese to young people. That appears to be having an impact.
Postscript: another trick used in Russia is the use of opinion polls. Just like both democratic politicians worldwide and many dictators Russia's leaders look at opinion polls to look for clues on which which subjects they could increase their popularity. I gives me mixed feelings. On the one hand it is good that Russia's leaders are at least somewhat listening to the public. On the other hand it distracts from what really counts and it leads to people like Tony Blair and Obama where polls and power games seem more important than reaching political goals.