So Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has just been re-presidented for at least another six years, during which we can all watch his newly tucked eyes migrate back to where they used to be. And as surely as a pound dog comes with fleas, this election came with "irregularities" -- cloaked in "democracy," as Russian powers like to do it.
For instance, there were 200,000 webcams to monitor the polling stations, but all fed directly into the Kremlin. There were also candidates other than Putin. See if you can name one. If you can't, blame the Russian authorities, who refused to allow anyone competitive on the ballot -- something into which President Medvedev (soon to be re-prime ministered) is demanding a Ministry of Justice investigation. This Russian electoral exercise reminds me of the fun I used to have as a child, putting a doll in each hand and making up the voice for each one as they argued with each other -- before getting tired of the charade and throwing both into the back of my much favored Tonka dump truck.
The surprising story of this election is one that's been largely overlooked. I'm less moved by Putin winning a third presidential term than I am by the fact that Gennady Zyuganov, who describes himself as a "Communist" to the point where he thinks that Putin obviously isn't one, would score as much as 17 percent of the vote. Granted, he's fed up with power being in the hands of a select few and sounds like a Russian 99 percenter, but he was hardly a "Nyet to The Man" candidate, having called for the "re-Stalinization" of Russia.
Wealth distribution without productivity is a recipe for economic collapse. The Russian oligarchs are tasked with investing Kremlin money worldwide, which at least carries some risk. The idea of just handing it out in the absence of any responsibility is dangerous. Nor would it be morally fair for Russians in the business and industrial sectors to work to support those who do nothing. If there is to be a more equitable distribution of Russian GDP, then it ought to be earned.
This might be what Putin was getting at when he recently announced huge investment in the Russian military-industrial sector, with a tripling of military members' pay. At least they'll be working for it, developing their talents for future application. In doing so, they'll enjoy a better standard of living, thereby curtailing the demographic winter and lifespan/emigration problem to which many experts feel Russia is doomed.
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