Monday, March 12, 2012

Third term for Putin spells trouble ahead

He did it again. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin won another presidential election. While the outcome was no surprise, neither was the controversy that greeted his victory. Despite Putin’s claim that he won “an open and honest fight,” the opposition has charged that the outcome reflects vote tampering and outright fraud.

The growing antagonism of forces opposed to Putin will make the challenge of governing Russia ― already quite formidable ― even more difficult.

The outcome of Sunday’s presidential ballot was never in doubt. Even after the mass protests that followed last December’s parliamentary vote ― triggered by charges of ballot stuffing and fraud ― the only real question surrounding this vote was whether Putin would win in the first round or would be forced into a runoff. According to the official Central Election Commission, Putin won 63.60 percent of the vote, well above the 50 percent threshold needed for an outright win. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov came in second with 17.18 percent. Percentages for billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky did not break double figures. (Final returns showed Prokhorov with 7.98 percent and Zhirinovsky with 6.22 percent.)

Still, the margin of victory for Putin was an embarrassment for the man who won 71.9 percent of the vote in his 2004 victory. Read More

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