Monday, 19 March 2018

Russian presidential election

Yesterday the people of Russia elected Vladimir Putin by an overwhelming majority. With almost all the votes counted, Putin has seventy-six percent of the ballot. His nearest rival, Pavel Grudidin, the Communist Party's candidate, came distant second with twelve percent.

The results of the election have been treated by the western corporate media as proof that Russia is not a democracy, that the election was rigged and that Putin is a dictator. This reaction is obviously nothing more than the recycling of a pre-determined narrative. It simply ignores the actual evidence. For example, the election was monitored by thousands of observers, including over fifteen hundred international observers from a hundred and fifteen countries. The election was covered by more than ten thousand journalists. In these circumstances systematic rigging of the election is inconceivable.

The election makes clear, precisely what the western political media elite are determined to deny: Vladimir Putin has the overwhelming support and confidence of the people of Russia. When people such as Boris Johnson claim that their conflict is not with the people of Russia, but only with Putin, they are either deluding themselves or they are lying. There is opposition to Putin, but it is not what people like Johnson believe it to be.

The opposition to Putin is tiny, and such as it exists, is actually communist/socialist, as is shown by the fact that the Communist Party candidate came second. Grudidin was a terrible candidate. He was not even a member of the Communist Party (frankly, I cannot understand why the Communists adopted him). He is a business man. He has foreign bank accounts, allegedly for the purposes of avoiding taxes. Given that the opposition to Putin wants capitalist enterprises and the rich to be more heavily taxed and more generous social policies, these facts made Grudidin a terrible candidate.

The western political media elite, of course, ignores the real opposition to Putin (it is simply too inconvenient) and prefers instead to pretend that Navaleny is the real opposition. However, this is just fantasy. They pretend that Navaleny was not allowed to contest the election because he is a threat to Putin. They like to represent Navaleny as a liberal. This is all nonsense. Navaleny was not allowed to contest the election, not because of his political views, but because he is a criminal. Indeed, there were a number of liberal candidates contesting the election. If we add up all their votes, they received a mere four percent of the vote. If Navaleny had contested the election, it is highly likely that he would have received less than two percent.

If relations between the west and Russia are to improve, it is essential that the west's political media elite take the results of this election seriously. They need to put their Russophobic narratives to one side and look at the facts objectively. The people of Russia overwhelming support Vladimir Putin. Any potentially successful opposition to Putin would not be someone like Navaleny, but rather someone who was even more determined to put Russia's interests first. The days of Yeltsin, when the west's multinational corporations could loot Russia, are over, and the west's political media elite need to accept that fact.

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