One more term for Putin: Dark ambition, dim hopes
I would characterize the Brookings Institute as U.S. based and center left in its orientation.
(Brookings Institute) Vladimir Putin’s victory is not a surprise, given his reign over the past 18 years during which he eroded state institutions and undercut Russia’s democratic pillars. Since the Russian president cannot promise economic prosperity, he instead distracts citizens and inflates his strongman image through political confrontation with the West.
As I predicted in an op-ed late last month, the outcome of the Russian presidential elections was a forgone conclusion—Vladimir Putin retains his post in the Kremlin for another six years. Elections were not fair and were not equal. Putin’s main opponent, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was not registered as a candidate; seven other candidates never demonstrated a strong desire to win—their combined result is less than one-third of Putin’s. None of the candidates had even half of Putin’s TV airtime and all were financially constrained.
Putin’s result was supported by massive voter fraud. Observers registered hundreds of falsifications, with flagrant ballot stuffing by officials despite online web monitoring. Election results in local voting stations differed depending on the presence or non-presence of observers. For example, in Chechnya, the North Caucasian ethnic republic run by the former rebel leader Ramzan Kadyrov, those stations with observers reported turnout of between 30-40 percent and Putin’s result was from 60 to 70 percent, while at the voting stations with no observers the turnout reached 100 percent with 93 to 95 percent voting for Putin. According to mathematical analysis from the elections on Sunday, March 18, Putin obtained 9.5 million extra votes. This compares with 8.8 million extra votes in the 2004 elections, and more than 10 million extra votes in 2012.
The desire to hold on to power is a natural one for many politicians. Some employ democratic methods to win elections, and some wait for the right moment to change the rules of the game, drawing their country farther and farther away from political equality. Putin chose the second path. Political transformation in Russia under Putin moved in a consistent direction. Each time he faced a decision on political reforms, he chose the path of greater restriction of freedom. He has never agreed to concessions, opting instead to go on the attack and increase pressure on his opponents.
Well, now that you have read the introduction I guess you should consider yourself brainwashed.