Saturday, March 01, 2008

Vote early, and often(Russian-style)!

Tomorrow is Election Day in Russia--Presidential elections, that is. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin's party already triumphed in the parliamentary elections of December 2, so all that is left is the shouting, celebrating and anointing of Putin's hand-picked successor, Dmitrii Medvedev. Hillary Clinton mangled Medvedev's name in Tuesday night's Ohio debate, but it hardly matters, because Medvedev at this point looks as if he is the mouthpiece for Putin, who cannot legally remain as President but can and will stay on as Prime Minister. Putin routinely refers to himself as the "Father of the Nation," so how could the nation possibly continue to exist without him?!

Medvedev's vote total is projected to exceed 70%. I guess this is a "respectable" tally, but one would think the affirmation would be way stronger. All of Medvedev's opponents have been disqualified, his party has a monopoly on media coverage and Russians have all kinds of carrots and sticks to get them to the polls--cash and booze in some places, employer voting checks and schoolkid coercion elsewhere. But I suppose appearances matter...if you turn in results along the lines of 90%, you are probably getting close to banana republic voting, which would make you look ridiculous. And Putin's heir and sock-puppet!

It all takes me back to my student days in St. Petersburg 27 years ago, when one of my instructors at then Leningrad State University assured the class that, contrary to popular belief, the USSR DID have free elections. When asked to explain her reasoning, she declared--with a perfectly straight face-- that everyone was perfectly free to vote for the ONE candidate on the ballot!

Plus ca change...


Blogger TomCat said...

Diebold is alive and well in Russia. Bush also mangled Medvedev's name in his Reich rant the other day. But Bush sometimes mangles his own name. Too many syllables for him.

3:35 PM  
Blogger moville said...

Tom, very well put. interestingly, anna politkovskaia's old paper, the Novaia Gazeta(New Paper)had an article last week titled, "Americans steal elections even better than we do!," focusing on--wait for it--Diebold and other electronic vote machine makers, whose machines the article described as manifestly inferior to credit card verifiers or ATMs. I was going to fish it out and translate it for everyone's benefit,'s not really news.

4:02 PM  

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