Putin’s Pre-Election Ploy

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This would not be the first time that Putin has resorted to political stunts in the run-up to an important election. Conspiracy theories still circulate that the government was behind a series of apartment bombings on the evening of Putin’s first election in 2000. Whether or not that’s true, Putin certainly tried to exploit the attacks to his advantage, blaming the bombings on Chechen terrorists and successfully presenting himself as the man to keep Russia safe. More recently, during the 2008 election, the government claimed to have stopped a sniper planning to kill Putin near the Red Square. Given this recent history, it’s little wonder that many Russians have dismissed the latest assassination plot as business as usual by the Kremlin.

The symbolic purpose of these political stunts is to portray Putin as a strong leader, but increasingly the image he projects is one of weakness. Months of popular demonstrations against the government, driven by chants of “Russia without Putin,” have given the lie to official claims about Putin’s popularity and exposed a real rift within Russian society. Putin may still control the levers of power in Moscow. But as Russian protesters demonstrated this weekend, when they formed a ten-mile long human chain around the Moscow center, the city is no longer his.

By themselves, such symbolic gestures will do little to prevent Putin’s all-but-certain victory this weekend. But for the first time during Putin’s one-man rule, the now-familiar gimmick of a pre-election assassination plot cannot detract from the Russian public’s growing desire for a time when Putin’s days truly will be numbered.

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  • UCSPanther

    Putin's sudden disfavour with his subjects will really throw the anti-American and anti-Israel malcontents who openly supported him for a major loop.

  • StephenD

    He isn't going anywhere. Think about it. He was the leader of the KGB during the time of the "Soviet Union." If there were to be any real changes in the power structure, would the leader of their clandestine Gestapo-esc Police agency not have been investigated and charged with crimes against his own people? NOT ONE of the former leaders was ever charged with any wrong doing. Because…though the names have changed the players and the game remain the same. "Soviet Russia" is alive and well.

    • reader

      "He was the leader of the KGB during the time of the "Soviet Union.""

      During the time of the "Soviet Union" Putin was just a KGB Colonel stationed in East Germany. He evolved as the the leader (or the front) for the rising "ex"KGB political force during the Eltsin years.

  • Ghostwriter

    This time,the Russians aren't going to fall for Putin's baloney. They know what kind of creep he is and they want him out. More power to them is what I say.

    • Stan Lee

      The fake election is on March 4th, Putin will be "in" again. He has enough power to do it. Actually, Medvedev was his "stand-in" while he, Putin, was ineligible "by law." Putin will put an end to that because he intends to be "President for Life."
      Russians are on very thin ice, the country has never had anything but an all-powerful ruler. It's Constitution and Duma amount to facade only.
      It's going to be sad, Russians may need to resort to revolution, Putin won't leave for the sake of the nation, and that nation has never had a taste of real democracy. It can only measure itself to the USA, electronic communication brought more understanding of what Russia lacks. Russians know what they don't want and that's rule by a police state. It's only a matter of time, sadly for Russia's people.

      • Jim

        The cry of the losers is always "They Stuffed the Ballot Box".
        The protestors represent a minority not the Russian people.
        Their protestors party could not win even if they them selves stuffed the ballot boxes.
        Unfortunately only the Communists have a chance of winning. The country side wants them.

  • Jim

    You certainly wouldn't want to return to those glorious days of yester year when Yeltsin and the Harvard boys dragged Russia into poverty while the KGB looted the bank accounts of the Russian people and took over small businesses by force.

    Putin drove most of the Oligarchy out of the country ,put a few in jail and used the rest to gain power.
    He was Russia's first really elected leader. He restored Russia. It was the US under Bush who tried to move NATO to the Russia's border even after the Communists were removed from power . It was the US who tried to aim missiles at Russia while claiming they were really aimed at Iran. It was a US installed Democratic dictator in Georgia who killed innocent women and children in Ossetia by means of artillery bombardment.

    If you want Putin out you had better think twice. The Communists are coming up fast is the polls.
    The Russian protestors are most probably astro turf for the resentful oligarchy.
    I will take Putin any time over Bush and Obama.

  • Ghostwriter

    Jim,why would you want a former KGB man running Russia? That would be like letting Dracula run a blood bank. It does nobody any good. Besides,I doubt many of Russia's neighbors are as fond of Putin as you seem to be.