Vote Paves Way for Putin to Remain in Power
Posted by Joshua Price on December 3, 2007
This is from The Washington Times this morning:
MOSCOW (AP) — Vladimir Putin’s party won a crushing victory in parliamentary elections yesterday, paving the way for the authoritarian leader to remain in control even after he steps down as president.
The vote followed a tense Kremlin campaign that relied on a combination of persuasion and intimidation to ensure victory for the United Russia party and for Mr. Putin, who has used a flood of oil revenues to move his country onto a more assertive position on the global stage.
So just how intimidating were some of the tactics used to ensure victory?
Many Russians complained yesterday about being pressured to cast their ballots, with teachers, doctors and others saying they were ordered by their bosses to vote at their workplaces.
“People are being forced and threatened to vote; otherwise they won’t get their salaries or pensions,” said Boris Nemtsov, leader of the liberal Union of Right Forces party.
There are also some questions being raised about the validity of the election:
Several opposition leaders accused the Kremlin of rigging the vote, and the Bush administration called for a probe into voting irregularities. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov called the election “the most irresponsible and dirty” in the post-Soviet era and party officials vowed to challenge the results.
Some may say that this no big deal, after all we have some issues in our elections here in the U.S., but we aren’t a former communist country!
The bottom line on this is to monitor Russia, and more importantly, Valdimir Putin very closely. I hope I am wrong, but I believe that we are indeed seeing a new Cold War setup with the “new” Russia and Venezuela (can’t forget about Putin’s communist buddy Hugo Chavez).