by The Editor
Russia, this past weekend, had one of history’s most brilliantly contemplated elections. The competition was legitimatized, the polls were closely monitored, and the turnout was auspicious. None of these adjectives are positive in reality. They are postulated from men with inopportune ambitions and judgement. The unfavorable ironies in this situation are those that shed from the anti-democratic remnants of previous governments. The United States, a country which has maintained warm relations with the post-Soviet nation, may be keen to realize that progress is in the air.
The protestors lining the streets of Moscow around the Kremlin protested fraud in the parliamentary elections. The Duma, as the parliament is called, experienced even more amazing election results in December when the voting turnout exceeded one hundred forty-six per cent of the electorate in one region. This time, as thousands braved the Moscow cold, the demands for legitimate elections increased. Eight days later, an alternative to Putin was offered. This time an outsider, NBA team-owner, and mining billionaire, Mikhail Prokhorov, said he would run for president in the, “most important decision of my life.” The last time an outsider entered Russian politics, the last laugh was Putin’s. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oil tycoon, tried to help his friends into the Duma in 2003. In October of that year, the New Yorker writes, “masked commandos stormed his private jet and arrested him. His assets were parceled out to Putin’s friends and he was sentenced to nine years in jail. In December, 2010, he was given another fourteen-year sentence.” The story of Mikhail Khodorkovsky perhaps suggests that wealthy barons are not welcome into Putin’s politics.
In December, 2011, the coincidental timing of Prokhorov’s entry to politics suggested to disgruntled Russians that Prime Minister Putin’s intentions were twofold. The first was to legitimatize the election by involving a powerful external force. The second was to break up the opposition, although very few people knew believed that the billionaire was on his own. The intention, allegedly, was to create a general election primary in the opposition.
Now, as anti-Putin protests continue following the Prime Minister’s self-declared victory, new facts illuminate the happenings of election weekend.
Inspiring Voter Turnout
In Chechnya, the Prime Minister won 99.82 per cent of the vote, with only one vote going to the opposition. This happened despite a deadly war between local anti-Putinites and Putin’s troops.
Prime Minister Putin ordered web cameras to be installed at all ninety thousand polling stations around Russia. A network of civilian observers joined online to observe the cameras. They, in exchange, reported over one thousand irregularities.
Strong Public Transport
Independent election watchdog groups reported that busses assembled to ‘carousel’ pro-Putin voters from precinct to precinct.
Vladimir Putin was a welcomed candidate in his maiden rise to power. Although corruption remains, the country’s uprising against Putin suggests that the people of the Russian Federation are moving in the right direction.