14 April, 2024

Blog

Russian Presidential Election Results

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Russia is exultant about the outcome of the Presidential election. The poll was 77% of the electorate and Putin secured 87% of the votes cast; a landslide on both counts. The voting was not rigged; why upset the show when you have this kind of triumph to your credit? To what extent Russia is democratic is a separate matter that I will discuss later on. Russians are enjoying themselves mocking America and the West: “When has your President ever won 87% of the vote in a poll where 77% of the electorate participated?” Actually, never since 1904 has the turnout at a US election exceeded 66% and, in any case direct comparison in not possible because of the American “Electoral College System”.

Putin is not a Marxist, Leninist or any brand of socialist. He is a conservative and religious Russian Nationalist. Of the three opposing candidates, only Nikolay Kharitonov of the Communist Party who secured 4.3% of the poll stood to the left of Putin. The other two, Leonid Slutsky of the Liberal Democratic Party and Vladislav Davankov of New People, both can be described as Liberals, together received 7% of the poll. Western media is so ignorant that it did not even know the names and platforms of the three opposition candidates and lamented that Putin had been elected for a third term, that is up to 2030 but failed to mention that Angela Merkel served four terms as German Chancellor (16 years and 15 days, 10 days less than Helmut Kohl).

The first to congratulate Putin were the “usual culprits” Cuba, Venezuela and Bosnia and Herzegovina, followed by Turkey’s Erdogan and BRICS and BRICS+ leaders. The loudest and most audible sigh of relief came from President Xi of China. China, was delighted that it had not backed the wrong horse and is clearly looking forward to a period of fruitful economic cooperation. Russia has vast resources (it is the most resource rich country in the world, estimated at $75 trillion – timber, gas, oil, coal, gold and rare-earth minerals). China is the world’s largest economy measured in purchasing power parity (PPP) and is leads the world in 37 out of 44 critical technologies, with the West trailing behind in the race for science and research breakthroughs, a report by an Australian think tank says according to Al Jazeera Business & Economy Section, 23 March 2023. Russia’s economy is ranked 8-th largest in the world in the nominal GDP terms. The Chinese and Russians are obviously calculating that by using on their combined and complimentary resources and benefitting from the BRICS and the BRICS+ linkages they are in for a golden period. I have written a previous column about a global shift to the right; it seems that the opposite effect is emerging in the countries of the Global South. The multi-polarity of the world is manifesting itself in a complex way in this day and age. BRICS is typical.

BRICS

BRICS originally was a formal organisation of five countries, only, as per the acronym while BRICS+ is the term used for a much larger grouping aligned in investment and economic activities as per various doings led by China. A few days ago Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were formally admitted into BRICS on 1 January 2024. Saudi Arabia is expected to join formally soon; so BRICS formally will become a nine or ten country outfit. The activities of BRICS+, correspond to the economic investments identified, mainly, with China’s Belt & Road initiatives. Decision making in BRICS (and now expanded BRICS) is formal government consultation. There are a large number of applications to join BRICS, which has to be done by formal procedure, or BRICS+ which can be on a project-by-project basis.

Source World Bank

Assassination of Putin’s opponents

Putin is a strategic thinker and obviously wants to cash in on his now advantageous, post-election, strategic profile. He has commented more than once that American and Western democracy is bogus and “for me the opportunity to serve the people if more important than winning the election”. It is clear that he intends to contest America and Western Europe for the mantle of “true democracy”. The big obstacle that stands in his way are the murder of Alexey Navalny by his henchmen and previously of Anna Politkovskaya, a prominent journalist and a persistent chronicler of rights abuses in Chechnya, who was shot dead in her apartment in an execution-style killin on, July 16, 2009. A renowned human rights activist, her body was found in Ingushetia hours after her abduction near her home in the capital of Chechnya, Grozny.

The body of Natalya Estemirova, renowned human rights activist who had also been investigating kidnapping and murders in Chechnya, was discovered near her apartment. Sergei Yushenkov, a veteran politician and leader of the anti-Kremlin party Liberal Russia was shot in front of his Moscow home in April 2003. The former Russian security agent Aleksandr Litvinenko died in London after being poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 in November 2006. He had fled to Britain in 2000 accusing the Federal Security Service of plotting to kill oligarch Boris Berezovsky, a strong Putin opponent. He drank tea, laced with polonium in London with two Russian agents.

This is a long and shameful list and no matter how hard he tries Putin will not be able to erase the disgrace. I think a political leader in the West would not be able to conceal such a string of personal crimes, which is different from (but less heinous) than hundreds of American foreign policy and CIA crimes of overthrowing foreign governments on behalf of American policy. This is the difficulty Putin will encounter in trying to sell himself as a democrat.

Is there a lesson for nearer home in this story. Yes; if you go smudge your copybook it is not possible ever to erase that reputation. Except NM and Dudley, Colvin, Peiter and a few others, nearly all political leaders on both the left and right have muddied their copybooks in this respect.

Terror in Moscow

In the midst of all this, the massive terrorist attack on a concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow has created dire confusion. There has been 150+ deaths and many more injured. The who-done-it story is utterly confusing. Two weeks ago the US State Department issued a ‘Travel Advisory’ to US and British citizens to get the hell out of Russia because the security scene was worsening. “Why the hell didn’t you inform us?” the Russians queried; the Americans replied “We did through state-to-state channels”.

The obvious question uppermost in the media all over the world is “Who is behind the attack?” A frequent response is “It’s a Islamic State type of entity”. However, the US also claimed “Ukraine was certainly not involved”. How is the US so sure about that? God save Ukraine from Russian wrath if it did have anything to do with this terrorist attack. Actually, I think the Ukrainian government wouldn’t make such a damn-fool blunder.

How things may pan out from now on is going to be very interesting. Putin is a cleaver strategist if he is anything. He will make every effort to bolster Russia’s bargaining power vis-à-vis the Americans and try to erase pages from his blotched copybook detailing the murder of political rivals. He may also ponder building strategic bridges with the US and crafting some Russian-style democracy. We need to watch the situation for a few more weeks to see how things pan out. As Rumsfeld would put it “These are unknown Unknowns” but don’t hold your breath, Putin is no Muscovite version the great Athenian statesman Pericles.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comment

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.