Russia: Anglophone Bloggers Discuss the Presidential Election

Global Voices Online
Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Eternal Remont posted this summary of the March 2 presidential election in Russia:

Russia’s nail-biting presidential election came down to the wire yesterday, as the world cautiously awaited the outcome of the vote. For it's part, Eternal Remont has stayed above the petty cynicism of western observers who gratuitously forecast the outcome of the event before all the votes were counted.

In the end, Dmitry Medvedev pulled a comfertible 70.23% of the electorate – 2,373,736 more votes than Putin won in his 2004 re-election (Jamestown).

This is not too shabby when your only opponents are, as Anne Applebaum writes,“a clapped out communist, a complete nonentity, and the ludicrous anti-Semite and vulgarian Vladimir Zhirinovsky.” (Here’s the lovable Zhirinovsky ordering his bodyguard to shoot Andrey Bogdanov during a national debate.)

Below are a few more samplings of the coverage that the election has received in the English-language blogosphere.

Giustino of Itching for Eestimaa had to explain himself after he wrote this in the introduction to his election post:

The Russian people, burdened by numerous good choices in their presidential election, finally settled on Dmitri Medvedev yesterday, a 42-year-old fan of the rock group Deep Purple who will become the youngest Russian head of state since Prime Minister Aleksander Kerensky took over the reins from Georgy Lvov in July 1917 at the age of 36.

A reader inquired:

[...] Justin, you are kidding, aren't you? The malignant little troll settled on a puppet. The "Russian people" weren't consulted.

Giustino replied:

I forgot to mention that I frequently employ sarcasm in my blog posts. Maybe I should put up a disclaimer?

Andy H of Csíkszereda Musings mentioned Medvedev's age in a different context:

On the day that I turned 42, Russia elected a president who is also 42. I grew up in a world in which the Russian (then Soviet) presidents were basically the oldest men in the world. Anyone remember Konstantin Chernenko for example? A man who seemed so old that he could barely appear on TV, and who proved to be just as frail by expiring soon after ascending to the role of leader. With these memories, being as old as the president of Russia is a little bit sobering. [...]

David Weman of A Fistful of Euros began his election post this way:

Guess what? Medvedev won! [...]

He then pointed out the "tandem" arrangement of Medvedev's forthcoming presidency:

[...] The question is if Medvedev eventually will become the de facto head. [...] Another question would be what could happen if Putin would die or partly retire. [...]

Taras of Ukrainiana also commented on "the Medvedev-Putin tandem":

[...] Some analysts and Western politicians view Medvedev as Putin’s softer alter ego — a more liberal, more tech-savvy, more Western-friendly type of guy.

Some also believe Putin’s premiership will result in a redistribution of power. Yet others say Putin will run for president again, which the Russian Constitution allows him to dо after a one-term break from the presidency. Well, let’s see. Let's see how the Medvedev-Putin tandem works. [...]

Taras also posted five Medvedev/Putin-related videos, including the quite famous 2004 footage of "Medvedev as the protocol-conscious guy who couldn't refuse Yanukovych’s offer of candy at a parade in Kyiv [...]."

Andy of Siberian Light liveblogged the election, producing what Tim Worstall has called "a masterpiece of redundant blogging." Among other things, Andy wrote this about Medvedev's victory:

[...] 70% is an important psychological figure, which will on the face of things give much more credibility to backers of Medvedev. On the other hand, the late increase in Medvedev’s vote share, from 64% late yesterday to just over 70% at the close of play, might arouse suspicions among the more conspiracy minded observers of Russian politics…

By the way - Medvedev gained slightly more votes in total than Putin four years ago (translation here), but a slightly lower overall percentage - Putin managed 71.31%.


In Chechnya, Medvedev gained a disappointing 90% of the vote (translation here). Disappointing because Putin gained 99% there just four years ago… [...]

Sean Guillory of Sean's Russia Blog commented on the election and the coverage it received in the American media:

[...] The editors from the Washington Post can’t get it through their thick skulls that the “head of the Communist Party” and the “buffoonish ultranationalist” are the only serious opposition simply because they actually have political constituencies. To suggest otherwise would be like saying Ralph Nader is the only serious opposition in the American election. The real sad part is that instead of allowing Kasyanov to run openly and uninhibited to show the world that Russians don’t care about him, the Kremlin’s minion in the Central Election Commission disqualified him for allegedly faking signatures. I believe this claim. But the election is all bullshit anyway so the way I see it you might as well let all bullshitters play. At least that way the whole process won’t be so goddamn boring. [...]

James of Robert Amsterdam's blog re-posted Michael Idov's video roundup of the election day:

Michael Idov of the New Republic had a hard time finding anyone who had actually voted in the Russian presidential election, apart from those who attended the polls for free food and prizes. Others he spoke with voted for Zyuganov simply because they wanted to vote for someone who was not "rammed down their throats." Idov also remarks on the sad state of the opposition, left huddling and hiding in "smoky rooms", making "hopeless jokes" like dissidents of the Khrushchev era.

Perspectives on the New Russia, writing on the eve of the election, recounted nine "attractions that are being offered at different polling stations to encourage Russians to come out and vote." Here's one:

8. In Karachaevo-Cherkisia, all voters will get free haircuts.

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