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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Putin wins Russia, and convincingly


SAURABH KUMAR SHAHI | Moscow, March 5, 2012 12:46
Tags : moscow elections 2012 | vladimir putin | russian presidential election 2012 | tearful putin | Gennady Zyuganov | Mikhail Prokhorov | Sergei Mironov | fraud in russian election 2012 |

There are things one never expects to see in life and then witnesses it when he or she is least expecting it. Yesterday, amidst the exhilarating crowd at Manezh square near Kremlin following near certain Putin victory in the presidential poll, what I was expecting was a solid dose of rhetoric, hands pumping in the air and of course anti-Americanism. What I least expected was streams of tears flowing down from ex-KGB strongman’s eyes. I could see scores of journalist from all over the world listening stunned, some even forgetting to click that iconic picture, as Putin spoke the words of gratitude, his voice cracking. Not to miss the moment, I snatched the camera from my Polish journalist’s hand and clicked a couple of shots as my own camera without Image Stabilizer was of little use amidst that jostling crowd. I know, as I write this, commentaries will be written in the western press, and a few cynical Russian newspapers too, convincing people those tears were fake, possibly glycerine. A few, who would admit that it was after all not fake, will go one to prove it was insincere nonetheless.  Fewer still who will admit to both will project it as a sign of weakness, a possible chink in Putin’s armour. I am sure; no one in the west will see it as a tribute of gratitude. But for that brief moment when I saw them, I could sense the genuine feeling of gratitude. After all the man who was under siege for close to 3 months now, had finally had his redemption.

As almost all the votes been counted, Vladimir Putin secured 63.82%, or 44.9 million popular votes cast yesterday, the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) reports. The Communist Party contender, Gennady Zyuganov, received 17.18% of the votes, which corresponds to more than 12 million ballots, while the independent candidate, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov came a convincible third with 7.77% or roughly 5.4 million votes.

Among the also-rans, ultra right-wing Vladimir Zhirinovsky, mercurial leader of the LDPR party, stood fourth with paltry 6.23% or 4.3 million votes whereas the A Just Russia party candidate and former Federation Council speaker Sergei Mironov finished last with 3.84% or 2.7 million votes.

Meanwhile independent observers and opposition leaning volunteers have alleged widespread fraud and irregularities but have failed to provide concrete evidence till now. Many of the irregularities reported are minor in nature such as missing of somebody’s names from the list or absence of absentee ballots. There are some serious charges of bussing voters for multiple voting as well. However, looking at the magnitude of the win and expanse of the country, it is evident that they would not affect the result even marginally.

Looking at the physical divide, it is evident that Putin has convincingly won the day in Urals, Caucuses, Far East and the hinterland whereas his support in the big cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg where opposition movement was vocal and more visible, has gone down.

The most interesting has been Moscow where he polled less than 50 percent of the vote and saw Prokhorov claiming second position behind him leaving national runner-up Zyuganov cold at third. In fact, it is surprising how Prokhorov managed to do so well in absence of a party or a well oiled logistic machinery to speak of. He appears to be a clear choice of the upper middle class and upper class voters in the big cities who now seem to have lost their faith in Putin. But what has made Putin win the day is the boisterous support he commands in the lower middle class and the working class population everywhere and among all classes outside the big cities.

The reactions from the experts have started pouring in. "The elections were valid, and this is clear to everyone, even to the opposition. Even if we sum up all violations which took place – and they, naturally, did – this won’t affect the existing results in any way. Putin was to win in the first round, he is just more popular. Figures are figures,” maintained First deputy secretary of the Russian Public Chamber Grigory Fyodorov.

Meanwhile the CEC also released the final polling figures that said as many as 65.3% of the Russian voted yesterday in the polls. As expected, the polling was higher in Caucuses and Urals and comparatively less in big cities.   

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017