Comrade Putin Back as Russian Leader, Thousands Protest

Vladimir Putin engineered his return to power through corruption, intimidation, murder, and setting up Dmitry Medvedev as a temporary sockpuppet.

Note the retro Soviet tactics.

Vladimir Putin scored a decisive victory in Russia’s presidential election Sunday to return to the Kremlin and extend his hold on power for six more years. His eyes brimming with tears, he defiantly proclaimed to a sea of supporters that they had triumphed over opponents intent on “destroying Russia’s statehood and usurping power.”

Putin’s win was never in doubt as many across the vast country still see him as a guarantor of stability and the defender of a strong Russia against a hostile world, an image he has carefully cultivated during 12 years in power.

Accounts by independent observers of extensive vote-rigging, however, looked set to strengthen the resolve of opposition forces whose unprecedented protests in recent months have posed the first serious challenge to Putin’s heavy-handed rule. Another huge demonstration was set for Monday evening in central Moscow.

Putin claimed victory Sunday night when fewer than a quarter of the votes had been counted. He spoke to a rally just outside the Kremlin walls of tens of thousands of supporters, many of them government workers or employees of state-owned companies who had been ordered to attend.

……”These elections are not free. … That’s why we’ll have protests tomorrow. We will not recognize the president as legitimate,” said Mikhail Kasyanov, who was Putin’s first prime minister before going into opposition.

The wave of protests began after a December parliamentary election in which observers produced evidence of widespread vote fraud. Protest rallies in Moscow drew tens of thousands in the largest outburst of public anger in post-Soviet Russia, demonstrating growing exasperation with the pervasive corruption and tight controls over political life under Putin, who was president from 2000 to 2008 before moving into the prime minister’s office due to term limits.

……Putin has dismissed the protesters’ demands, casting them as a coddled minority of urban elites manipulated by leaders working at the behest of the West. His claims that the United States was behind the protests spoke to his base of blue-collar workers, farmers and state employees, who are suspicious of Western intentions after years of state propaganda.

Vote rigging.  Big surprise.  And Putin declared himself the winner with less than a quarter of the votes counted.  The rampant voter fraud makes ACORN look amateurish.

A lot of Russians aren’t pleased.

Thousands of Russians are gathering for a massive rally to challenge Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s victory in Russia’s presidential election.

Putin won more than 63 percent of Sunday’s vote according to the nearly complete official returns, but the opposition and independent observers say the election has been marred by widespread fraud.

International election monitors pointed at the lack of real competition in the race and said the vote count “was assessed negatively” in almost a third of polling stations observers visited.

The criticism of the vote added fuel to Monday’s protest in downtown Moscow by Putin’s foes who are questioning his victory and demanding an end to his 12-year rule. The rally, which follows a series of massive previous protests against Putin’s rule, has been sanctioned by authorities.

Putin’s penchant for Soviet nostalgia resonates with some Russians who clearly aided and abetted his way back into power. This is a giant step backward. The Russians have had the last 23 years to transform into a nation of freedom and prosperity. Instead, it’s been rife with Russian mafia, political malfeasance, suppression of rights, and the return of a KGB thug who skulked in the wings for his reentry to power.

This will not end well.

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