Vladimir Putin wasn’t the only one with tears in his eyes as he exulted in his presidential election victory and shouted “Glory to Russia!” The entire American punditocracy, to say nothing of the Brits, responded as one with accusations the election had been fixed, confidently predicting a “crackdown” on “dissent” as the Russian leader resumed the office he had never really left.
Yet there is very little to these claims of fraud. Of course, in every election ever held anywhere there have been “irregularities,” such as are commonplace in our very own Chicago. There is some evidence the Russian parliamentary elections were somewhat less than honest – the 99 percent pro-Putin vote in Chechnya, of all places, was particularly suspect – although no one has gone so far as to say Putin’s United Russia party actually lost.
The reality is that Putin is immensely popular in Russia, a fact the English-speaking media only admits with great reluctance. The “dissidents,” who are fawned over by Western journalists, are viewed by Russia’s vast-albeit-silent majority as a tiny faction of professional discontents with dubious motives.