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March 5, 2012


The Russian political machine

Putin crying at victory speech

Surprise! Putin won Russia's presidential election over the weekend with 64% of the vote, which would be impressive if you believed those results were credible in any way. As it is, Putin used government funds to pay for his campaign, business managers pressured their employees to vote for Putin and collected their ballots, there was "statistically improbable" high turnout in the North Caucasus area (all for Putin), and the new webcams that were installed to ensure proper voting were turned off when it came time to count the ballots.

My favorite bizarre example of Russian electoral reform is either a punny attempt at political humor, or a smugly literal interpretation of democratic concepts: the election commission installed glass ballot boxes to demonstrate the "transparency" of their process. Hilarious!

Another strange moment was Sunday night when Putin started weeping on stage while Medvedev was introducing him (above). It was an uncharacteristic display of emotion for Putin, who seems to be more comfortable in the "Action Man" role of Judo master, scuba archeologist, biker, or wildman hunter.

The on-stage tears could have been a perfect opportunity for Putin to show his humanity and relate to his supporters and opponents on a more emotional level. But no! He wasn't crying, "it was just the wind," Putin claimed. He continued, "I am totalitarian KGB robot. Robot not crying. Robot crush frying pan. And justice."

Other former KGB officers want nothing to do with Putin and his presumed next six years in office. One voter on Sunday was Sergei Tanikov, a retired lieutenant colonel in the KGB:

"Today nothing will be decided," Mr. Tanikov said outside a polling station in Moscow, where he planned to vote for [Putin opponent] Mr. Zyuganov. "I have never participated in a protest, but tomorrow I will go out because I can no longer tolerate this fascist regime."

The Times is keeping up with today's protest in Moscow, where opposition leader Alexey Navalny was among those arrested. He's been tweeting from police custody--gutsy!

categories: International, Politics
posted by amy at 1:37 PM | #

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