Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, March 1, 2012



When I was a kid, Russia was always in the news.  It was the COLD WAR and Americans were obsessed with the day-to-day operations of the Soviet Union.  Newspapers were filled articles about LEONID BREZHNEV's failing health.  There were tons of television interviews with dissidents decrying Russia's lack of personal freedoms.  All the while, American satellites were constantly spying on the frozen land from space.  Well...the times have changed. The Russian Presidential Elections are THIS SUNDAY!  But don't look on the front page of your newspaper for an article.   My local paper has the story about the upcoming vote buried on Page C22...near the obituaries.

But that's why you read DUNER'S BLOG!  Here's a quick recap of the campaign so far: Initially, it was shaping up to be quite an event.  There were compelling politicians debating real issues that could improve the lives of all 150 million Russians.   Communist Party candidate GENNADY ZYUGANOV insisted the nation return to Soviet-style politics.  Six months ago, pollsters pegged him with 20% of the vote.  VLADIMIR ZHIRINOVKY and the Liberal Democratic Party also fared well in the polls...with the complete opposite agenda of the Reds.  A new party, A Just Russia was in the mix, as was independent billionaire MIKHAIL PROKHOROV. It looked like the PUTIN / MEDVEDEV stranglehold on Russian politics might finally be loosening.

But...as mentioned in an earlier blog...never underestimate the Power of Putin!  Mad Vlad sensed democracy was brewing in the Motherland and came up with a plan to squelch it.  First, he used the popular "Attract / Distract" method to confuse voters.  Rather than discuss a pivotal issue, like the chronic corruption that mires the economy, state-run media began a debate about changing Daylight Savings Time.  (Currently, the sun doesn't rise in Moscow until nine and it don't set until midnight!)  Instead of focusing on the alarming rise in the income gap between rich and poor, Putin proposed adding a new Federal holiday to the calendar.  While his opponents attempted to get their campaigns back to issues, Putin's party, UNITED RUSSIA, continued to focus on the trivial.

So far, Putin's plan has worked wondrously.  People all over Russia have voiced their opinions about new time zones and how to celebrate the new holiday.  No one is talking about corruption and income gaps. However...a true tyrant like 'Mad Vlad' still didn't trust opinion polls...even though they have him winning 65% of the vote.    So he went back to another tired and true campaign strategy: FEAR!  In a joint Russian / Ukrainian Secret Service Operation, officials announced the foiling a Putin assassination plot.  Photos of four, very evil-looking, Muslims appeared in newspapers nationwide.   All of which forced Russians to ask themselves the question: Which candidate can best protect me from Islam?  The answer is: PUTIN!

Putin: Russia's toughest leader since Ivan the Terrible.
After more investigation, it became clear to the writers of the DUNER BLOG why Sunday's election is getting so little media attention: It's because Russia isn't really a democracy.  Election watchdog agencies already declared last year's Parliamentary Elections "wrought with fraud."  These same groups are also concerned about the coming Sunday's election, especially after eleven top candidates were rejected by the Election Committee last year.  Let's face it: Nothing can stop Putin..who won elections in 2000 and 2004...from winning again in 2012.  Finally...one last item: Last year, Putin pursuaded the Russian Parliament to pass legislation extending the Presidential term from four to six years.  Looks like the world is stuck with Mad Vlad until 2018!  At least!

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