Putin’s Landslide By Eric Margolis

Dandelion Salad

By Eric Margolis
December 03, 2007

As expected, Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party won a landslide victory in yesterday’s parliamentary elections, garnering over 63% of the vote as of this writing, which will give it 70% of the seats in the Duma, or national assembly.

The Communist Party won only 11.6%. Its leader, Gennady Zuganov, cried foul, claiming the elections were fraudulent, a pretty rich accusation from the party that never held an honest vote in its entire history.

Two other small parties that vote with Putin’s United Russia gained about 15% of the vote. One of them is led by the Russian neo-fascist Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Liberal, western-oriented parties were shut out.

President Vladimir Putin’s earthy phrases seemed to have captured Russia’s current muscular mood. Reacting to sharp western criticism of Russia’s parliamentary elections, Putin, playing `Vlad the Bad,’ warned western powers not to `poke their snotty noses’ in his nation’s business.

Putin, who has been increasingly outspoken of late, mocked President George Bush’s double standard in accusing Russia of dubious elections, squashing opposition, and roughing up dissenters while ignoring similar behavior by US ally Georgia. He could have also added other key US clients like Pakistan, Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan.

The decision by the US-backed dictator of Pakistan, former Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to exclude former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from January elections made Washington’s rebuking of Moscow look particularly two-faced.

President Putin was right to tell off western critics and limit foreign observation of Russian elections. Russia is a great, historic power, not some banana republic. If western observers were really needed to supervise votes in Moscow, Omsk and Kaluga, then why shouldn’t Russian observers supervise America’s sometimes dodgy elections? For example, in Chicago, where the dead routinely vote; in Florida, where blacks are turned away; or Ohio where rigged voting machines gave Republicans victory in 2004 elections.

It would be better if we dropped the pretense that Russia conducts free, fair, western-style elections. Elections under former US protégé Boris Yeltsin were all rigged or voters bought. Today, Russian opposition parties have almost no funding, they are excluded from most media, which is largely government controlled. Parties winning less than 7% of the vote are excluded, and there is no independent electoral commission.

Sunday’s vote was really a referendum on President Putin’s popularity. Most polls show him with 70-80% approval, making Putin one of the world’s most successful and admired leaders. Election returns confirmed this fact, particularly among young Russians.

Former intelligence officer Putin and his KGB old boys network have worked wonders for Russia. After a coup that ousted the sick, besotted Yeltsin, Putin inherited a bankrupt, demoralized nation subsisting on cash handouts from Washington. So low did `Weimar’ Russia sink, much of its advanced military technology was sold to the US for large cash payoffs.

Thanks to tough management, nationalizations, and rising oil prices caused in part by George Bush’s foolhardy invasion of Iraq, Russia’s national income more than tripled under Putin, and the ruble became a hard currency. Equally important, Putin restored pride and sense of dignity to this fiercely chauvinistic nation.

In the process, he centralized all power in the Kremlin, muzzled the independent press, intimidated opponents, jailed oligarchs, and created a cult of personality. He ruthlessly crushed the life out of independence-seeking Chechnya, thrilling Muslim-hating Russians by vowing to `kill the Chechen bandits in their shithouses.’ Russians simply didn’t care about the atrocities their soldiers and police committed against the Chechen, whom they branded `terrorists,’ any more than Americans cared about the vast suffering they inflicted on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Most Russians couldn’t care less about the feeble little liberal parties clamoring for western-style democracy. It’s a sad truism that Russians want order, economic progress and national pride, not democracy. Judo champion, abstemious Putin fits this bill perfectly as the historic `white czar,’ a good, fatherly autocrat who is strong, manly, and pure.

To most Russians, `democracy’ is associated with the thieving oligarchs who pillaged Russia’s industries and resources during Yeltsin’s rule, and the ivory-tower economists who debauched Russia’s currency, leaving millions of pensioners to starve.

Democracy is also seem by many Russians as a Trojan Horse the US used to assert financial and political influence over Russia, and later in Ukraine, Georgia and Central Asia. Meanwhile, President Bush’s policies of ordering NATO around the way the Soviets treated the old Warsaw Pact, pushing NATO to Russia’s western borders, and the daft scheme to emplace US ABM systems in the Czech Republic and Poland enflamed Russia’s nationalist passions and reignited its historic fears of western threats.

Putin says he wants to continue leading Russia. But he is constitutionally banned from a third presidential term. So does Putin plan to run Russia as an all-powerful prime minister? As leader of his United Russia Party? Will he become a youthful elder statesman? Or will he simply get the Duma to change the constitution?

He may follow the example of Czar Ivan the Terrible, temporarily withdrawing from public life until throngs of supplicants beg him to return to Moscow as Czar.

Or he could just remain Citizen Vladimir Putin. The only formal title the great Deng Xiaoping held when he so brilliantly ruled China was Chairman of the Chinese Bridge Association. But no one doubted for a second who ran China.

Whatever Putin’s near-term political plans, he clearly intends to restore Russia’s role as a world power, and to challenge US global domination. Russia’s withdrawal last week from the European conventional arms treaty is the latest ominous sign.

President Putin wants to restore the old Soviet Union’s borders, but minus the Communist Party, which has sunk miserably low public support. Putin believes Russia’s vast energy and mineral resources will eventually make it the world’s leading power. Only 55 years old, Putin might even live to see this triumphant day for Mother Russia.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2007

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see

Monitors denounce Russia election + Putin cements power in Russian election

United Russia party celebrates victory in parliamentary vote (videos)

Vladamir Putin: “The world’s most popular leader”? By Mike Whitney

2 thoughts on “Putin’s Landslide By Eric Margolis

  1. Pingback: Putin and a new pan-Slavism (video; Margolis) « Dandelion Salad

  2. As usual stunning ignorance and partisanship demonstrated on this blog:
    “As expected, Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party won a landslide victory in yesterday’s parliamentary elections “
    As it was expected Hitler’s Nazi party did win in Germany. so what ?
    “Russia is a great, historic power, not some banana republic. If western observers were really needed to supervise votes in Moscow, Omsk and Kaluga, then why shouldn’t Russian observers supervise America’s sometimes dodgy elections? For example, in Chicago, where the dead routinely vote; in Florida, where blacks are turned away; or Ohio where rigged voting machines gave Republicans victory in 2004 elections.”
    This is correct : Russia consider entire world a sort of “banana republic” because
    1. Russia is the most racist and nationalistic country in the world
    2. there are no bananas in Russia :)))
    but why author would care?
    Russia is Anti Bush and it is good enough to be embraced as a standard of democracy for American left. But author is correct Russia can ignore western ( not only American, by the way ,but European as well ) denouncement of this “ elections” . Russia is an independent country, and Russia has its right to ignore a western opinion about a results . But it does not change the facts that :
    1. Governors in Russia were appointed ( can you imagine American president appointing a governor of a state?)
    2. There were no free press ( no free TV at least )
    3. Opposition was imprisoned or neutralized and potential opponents either intimidated or killed long time ago
    Is all listed above is OK with author ?
    <i. Most polls show him with 70-80% approval, making Putin one of the world’s most successful and admired leaders. Election returns confirmed this fact, particularly among young Russians.
    This is hilarious: I remember in soviet union was 99% approval of communists does it mean anything to anybody other than author? ?In anyway , Putin is still behind of 90% approval of Burundi constitutionhttp://www.afrol.com/articles/15828 which is a desirable standard for author.I guess.
    “It would be better if we dropped the pretense that Russia conducts free, fair, western-style elections. Elections under former US protégé Boris Yeltsin were all rigged or voters bought. Today, Russian opposition parties have almost no funding, they are excluded from most media, which is largely government controlled. Parties winning less than 7% of the vote are excluded, and there is no independent electoral commission.”
    Boris Yeltsin was not a western protégé but was elected president. Elected , by the way , by much higher than Putin margin twice in1992 and then in 1996 .You should learn a history before writing your “pro Putin” propaganda peace . Why when a guy who is pro-west is elected it is a “western protégé” ? does it mean that when “anti west” guy is winning he is ….a ?so call putin a” pro Iranian protégé ” then.
    “Thanks to tough management, nationalizations, and rising oil prices caused in part by George Bush’s foolhardy invasion of Iraq, Russia’s national income more than tripled under Putin, “
    Really? What is proof of that ? Russian wealth based on higher demand on oil in India and China. Nothing else . Neither USA nor Russia have anything to do with that. Putin has nothing to do with Russian wealth.
    “ the ruble became a hard currency.”
    Really ? This is really funny. Being that ignorant is being like a … clown :
    after 2520 % ( I am not mistyping it : two thousand fifty twenty percents ) http://goldnews.bullionvault.com/inflation_history_Zimbabwe_USA_101620073
    devaluation of a currency than winning few percent and declare it a strong g currency ? rise your hands who want a strong currency by that price? Educate yourself:
    “Russia (1921-1922 and 1992-1994)
    Russia experienced 213% inflation during the Bolshevik Revolution and again during the first year of post-Soviet reform in 1992 when annual inflation peaked at 2520%. In 1993 the annual rate was 840%, and in 1994, 224%. The ruble devalued from about 100 r/$ in 1991 to about 30,000 r/$ in 1999.”

    http://goldnews.bullionvault.com/inflation_history_Zimbabwe_USA_101620073

    “ Equally important, Putin restored pride and sense of dignity to this fiercely chauvinistic nation.”
    So did Hitler. So what ?
    “He ruthlessly crushed the life out of independence-seeking Chechnya, thrilling Muslim-hating Russians by vowing to `kill the Chechen bandits in their shithouses.”
    So what? Despite the taught talk today Kadirov get much more than Dudaev could dream of . Chechnya is not subdued by Russia : vice versa Russia is subdued by Chechnya
    “ Russians simply didn’t care about the atrocities their soldiers and police committed against the Chechen, whom they branded `terrorists,’ any more than Americans cared about the vast suffering they inflicted on Iraq and Afghanistan.”
    How do you know that ? Did you ask those hundreds thousands of Russians who were displaced, expelled form Chechnya, killed in Chechnya raped in Chechnya? I guess not because this kind of inquiry will go against your pro- Mussolini ( sorry for typo) pro putin agenda.

    “Most Russians couldn’t care less about the feeble little liberal parties clamoring for western-style democracy. It’s a sad truism that Russians want order, economic progress and national pride, not democracy. Judo champion, abstemious Putin fits this bill perfectly as the historic `white czar,’ a good, fatherly autocrat who is strong, manly, and pure.”
    Shame on you : those “feeble little liberal parties clamoring for western-style democracy” are small because all those who support them either in prison or killed because there are no free TV in Russia . journalists are killed . with your moral support more people will be killed and imprisoned. Those “small party people ” are risking their lives knowing they never will get a nobel price taken by a greatest meteorologist of times .Opposition in Russia is risking knowing that they will never get neither a sympathy nor understanding of demagogues like yourself . next time when another Russian dissident will be killed or jailed congratulate yourself for your input in destruction of democracy in Russia because putin’s snitches are using demagogues like yourself as an alibi

    “President Putin wants to restore the old Soviet Union’s borders, but minus the Communist Party, which has sunk miserably low public support. Putin believes Russia’s vast energy and mineral resources will eventually make it the world’s leading power. “
    “minus the Communist Party” plus what ? Nazi? Do you care ? or as long as Putin is “anti Bus” you are “pro Putin”?

    “Only 55 years old, Putin might even live to see this triumphant day for Mother Russia.”
    he has about 12 more years to enjoy it because the life expectancy in Rusasia is still 67 years in average with dying out population
    http://www.worldbank.org/depweb/english/modules/social/life/dataeuro.html

    as a conclusion: shame on you ! you are supporting destruction of democracy in a country just because it fits your political agenda. would you support ,according to your standards ( or lack of them?) Hitler as well ? i guess you would

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