Moscow is exactly twenty-four hours ahead of me — it’s March 3 there, March 2 here — so I need to get this in now: on March 4, Russia will have a presidential election. Vladimir Putin plans on winning (that’s the phrase used by one Russian journalist). You may recall that Putin was president once before but you’re not allowed by the Russian constitution to serve more than two consecutive terms, so for the last four years, Putin was prime minister and the president was an android stand-in. Now he’s opting for another eight years with the android going to become prime minister, then (presumably) another switch for four years, then another eight, then…
Unprecedented demonstrations have been held all over Russia opposing Putin and the plutocracy that he represents. One such was led by Simpsons figures and other toys. (Update here.) The demonstrations were prompted by revelations of vote-rigging in the parliamentary elections:
The election official had a problem. Workers at his polling station had been stuffing ballot boxes with votes for Vladimir Putin’s party all day, he says, but when the votes were counted United Russia still didn’t have enough. So he huddled with the election commission he chaired at the Moscow precinct. The decision: Putin’s party would get the desired 65 percent. One member objected, but relented when the others tossed his Communist Party a few dozen votes.
Polls, including exit polls, showed Putin’s party not getting anywhere close to the official count. The polling companies then came out with a new set of numbers. Election monitors have reported plans to rig the presidential vote, which has led to them being harassed and threatened.
Now Putin might have enough votes to win the election without fraud, but he may not have enough to avoid a run-off. Anyway, Putin demands total victory: How Putin won. So one thing to watch in the upcoming election is whether or not Putin decides to steal Moscow where he almost certainly does not have 50% support.
You know, re-reading that last sentence causes me to be very depressed. A victory for the Good Guys means having the Bad Guys cheating in an obvious manner. But that’s the best on offer, folks. The elections will be live-blogged.
[E-day update: As of a while ago, it appears that the live-blog site linked above is missing in action. Posiibly Moscow Gazette was forced to take it down. Anyway, there’s still Twitter, mostly in Russian, of course.]