Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Postmaster General of All the Russians

Given that Putin has engineered the election of Medvedev as the new Russian president, it is right to emphasize that the election is a sham. But it is misleading to simply call Medvedev the "successor" to Putin who is leaving under term limits there:

In an election with no real opposition, Mr Medvedev was guaranteed a victory even without machinations. The fact that the Kremlin went further to massage the figures may not be so much a sign of its insecurity, but of its sense of invincibility and disregard for law. Mr Medvedev has pledged to fight legal nihilism. Yet Sunday’s election was a prime example of precisely that.

The Kremlin did not just fix the elections in favour of its candidate, it made a mockery out of the process. Russia’s slavish state television reported Mr Medvedev’s convincing victory: he won perhaps as much as 70% of votes; the turnout was nearly 70% too.

Putin leaves the office of president but takes the crucial powers of the office with him to the prime minister slot. Medvedev basically gets the stationery and big desk. Putin will still have the nukes.

The disdain for real democracy is such that Putin can probably continue this chain of transfer of powers down through the government whenever he must leave a particular office, until he is postmaster general of Russia and still in charge.

And the Russians seem happy with this state of events. They could have joined the West after the Cold War. But they seem to derive more pleasure from annoying us just a little longer while they sink into Third World destitution at the mercy of the Moslems and Chinese on their long southern borders.