As you may or may not know, Russia has recently had elections, in which the ruling United Russia (ER) party was battered in the polls, and then a series of ongoing protests over the dodgy results. However, given the adage, ‘It does not matter how you vote, what matters is how they count’, the results look like they are actually far worse for the Putin-Medvedev bunch. As Israel Shamir reports:

Were the elections falsified? Independent observers reported many irregularities in Moscow; probably it was even worse elsewhere. It seems that the ruling ER party activists inserted many fake ballots, and probably skewed the results in their favour. A poll made by NGO Golos on the basis of a few polling places with no irregularities showed that the communists won big, while the ER almost collapsed at the polls. On the web, there are claims of massive distortions following the vote count. It is hard to extrapolate from the Moscow results to the whole country, but the Russians believe that the results were falsified. They are also tired of their Teflon rulers.

Official results versus popularly believed:

ER: 49% – 32%

SR: 13% – 17%

CPRF: 19% – 35%

LDPR: 11% – 11%

(CPRF = communists; SR = Just Russia, a breakaway from the communists; LDPR = Liberal Democratic Party of Russia)

Shamir concludes that even with the dodgy ‘official’ outcome:

The results were quite impressive and they point to great changes ahead. The Russians have said to communism: ‘Come back, all is forgiven’. They effectively voted to restore the Soviet Union, in one form or another.  Perhaps this vote will not be acted upon, but now we know – the people are disappointed with capitalism, with the low place of post-Soviet Russia in the world and with the marriage of big business and government … The twentieth anniversary of the restoration of capitalism that Russia commemorated this year was not a cause for celebration but rather for sad second thoughts. The Russians loudly regretted the course taken by their country in 1991; the failed coup of August 1991, this last ditch attempt to preserve communism, has been reassessed in a positive light, while the brave Harvard boys of yesteryear who initiated the reforms are seen as criminals. Yeltsin and Gorbachev are out, Stalin is in.

All the same, the communists don’t have the guts of their predecessors and are overly keen to avoid a civil war. They’d also need to win over substantial parts of the army. Indeed, they ‘are ready to work with Putin any time. Can Putin change his spots and become Putin-2, a pro-communist president who will restore the Soviet Union and break the power of the oligarchs? He could certainly adopt some communist rhetoric and use the communist support.  Judging by his recent utterances at the Valdai forum, he is likely to turn Russia leftwards’. Either that or it’s time for another Lenin.

(ht sk via tp)