March 4, 2012

Dictator Watch - Putin re-election edition

If you look like a movie villain...
Slick Russian strongman is going to sail to a tainted re-election that everyone knew would happen.
(Reuters) - Vladimir Putin won a resounding victory in Russia's presidential election on Sunday, exit polls showed, securing a new six-year term in the Kremlin and a mandate to deal with opposition protests after a vote that opponents said was marred by fraud.

Two television exit polls, released after voting ended at 1700 GMT, forecast the former KGB spy would win 59.3 and 58.3 percent of the votes, enough to make a runoff against the second-placed candidate unnecessary.

His nearest rival, communist Gennady Zyuganov, fell short of 20 percent in both polls.
What is not as obvious is what portion of the votes he received actually represent valid vote totals. Specifically he had to make his opponents look bad while winning so that no runoff voting would be required.
Putin's opponents said voting in many parts of the vast country was skewed to help him return to the presidency after four years as prime minister and vowed to step up the biggest protests since he rose to power 12 years ago.

But although they portray him as an authoritarian ruler who is out of touch, his victory had not been in any doubt.

The main challenge for Putin, credited by many Russians credit with rebuilding the country's image and overseeing an economic boom, was to win outright in the first round.
But buried in the Reuters story was this concerning little tidbit that reveals Putin's true designs and opinions on his own leadership of Russia. (emphasis added)
...opposition protests were sparked by the disputed December 4 election, but anger was focused at Putin, who bungled the September 24 announcement of his presidential bid by appearing simply to inform Russians that he would rule for another six years.
Putin's second stint as president should be a major concern for the west, in light of his naked ambition and heavy handed approach to everything from how he deals with his opposition to how he deals with international affairs. Putin is bad news for Russia and bad news for the world at large.
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