Putin Wins, Russia Loses
Western media are being pretty straightforward with reporting the corruption that's wildly evident in Putin's victory, as evidenced by this AP's coverage:
It was "not a fair election," said Goran Lennmarker, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.The NYT was in considerable denial however, burying a few short critical paragraphs in a story that otherwise trumpeted Putin's "triumph" and went on to answer "what next?" quesitons. Granted, whether the election was corrupt or not probably won't matter much to history, and Putin's decisions about his future -- and the Russians' willingness to accept his wishes -- matters more.
The election monitoring arm of the OSCE — regarded in the West as the most authoritative election monitor — did not send observers, saying Russia delayed granting visas for so long that the organization would have been unable to meaningfully assess election preparations.
Luc van den Brande, who headed the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said Russian authorities exerted the "overwhelming influence of the president's office and the president" on the campaign, skewing its outcome.
In Berlin, government spokesman Thomas Steg said Germany considered Russia's vote neither fair nor free, adding that the country could not be considered a democracy.
But what is with Putin? How megalomiacal is he, anyway? It's clear that a strong Russian majority is behind him, content with economic progress and not too culturally abhorrent of government heavy-handedness. Yet his drive for an overwhelming mandate left him with questions that, to the Democratic West and Russian opposition at least, leave him no mandate at all.
It was the kind of election only Jimmy Carter could call fair ... and an election that is the sign not of a savvy politican but of a very troubled mind.