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Monday, March 26, 2007

A Russian Blogger on the Russian Elections

The Russian Blogger at Russian News Analysis (now, perhaps bitterly, renamed "Whims of Fate") offers the following review of the blogosphere in regard to Russian elections:

When a regime is so corrupt and unstable that it is constantly trying to take every measure to insure it's total power monopoly, it produces a sense of desperation in a country as big and as varied as Russia. I have been watching several Russian forums one on which is a independent online news site from St.Petersburg which has a very popular forum and which is the site of Vladimir Soloviev who is a host of a circus like but open debate Russian TV show “K bariery!” (“To the Barrier!” or "On the Stand"), broadcast on NTV channel.

The forum on had a huge discussion about the March of the discontented which reached over 2000 posts. A lot of people posted why they went to the march and what exactly when on there and how authorities had busted peoples heads and dragged old ladies away in handcuffs.

The forum on Solovyov's site is also very popular and after every program which features actual opposition there's a heated discussion. The discussions from what I could tell usually fall into three camps, those for the status quo, those whoa re fed up with the lies and scams and want genuine change, and those that are completely jaded and hopeless and are rabidly anti-American but also against the current vlast. What is very encouraging is that there are many people who are genuinely concerned and have experienced the ravage corruption of the Putin era.

This is an excerpt from one of the posts I translated roughly from Saint Petersburg on elections.

"As it was then found out, Единоросы(United Russia) handed out grocery sets(food bundles), and Fair Russia distributed to pensioners envelopes with money. Opposite to tables where legalized papers, there were tables for filling where pensioners, and all commission closely watched their voting. Curtains on кабинках(voting booths) for voting, very much reminded emblem ЕР(United Russia), and they could not be drawn, that you did not see. The youth on elections was not present at all.
The extent to which the elections are a sham can be seen from the fact that all the non-government parties which are the Communists, Zhyrinovsky (LDPR) and SPF are contesting the election in all 14 regions. And this is the Kremlin approved opposition! With United Russia and Just Russia (both Kremlin creations) simply bribing and using all kinds of techniques which even Karl Rove would not approve of . So the approved opposition is screaming that this is unacceptable, while Putin fires the Central Election Commissions Chairman (Veshnyakov that was brazen enough to critique certain changes to election laws. So now Putin control's the elections completely without some somewhat principled individual to offer his comments. What this all leads to is the complete Kremlin control who's ultimate aim is to squeeze out ALL but the two Putin approved parties. While this may be seen by some naive observers as Putin's way to ensure democracy and plurality of opinion it is not so as the parties of power only care about gaining power, influence and stripping the country of resources for its own benefit.

This is the worse possible thing for Russia which already has experienced so much looting and criminal capitalism on a colossal scale. What is the result of a powerful security services, almost entirely no check & balances, huge monopolies in natural resources and no independent judiciary or parliament. This leaves Russia both weak and hugely unstable. As show by the March of the discontented a movement that is more actively anti government is growing.

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