Vladimir Putin won an easy re-election on March 4, he reclaimed his position as President of Russia after a four year absence. Putin won the majority of the vote with 64% to his nearest opponent’s 17%; with numbers like these you would think they were stealing the election. Certainly the Putin administration is corrupt and tyrannical, they have been accused of many crimes including murder, indefinite imprisonment, and suppression of political opponents. With such a pedigree you would have thought he would be perfect for the Democratic primary.
However undemocratic Russia may seem, Vladimir Putin’s administration is nothing out of the ordinary, in fact it is a great improvement from the Presidency of Boris Yeltsin.
Russia has seen a series of anti-Putin protests, which the western media has indulged. The western media has seen to promote the oppression of the Russian people, not because Putin is the most authoritarian leader in the world but because his government is one of the last refuges of European nationalism. Putin may be the only man who can save his country, Putin is Russian first, second and third; which flies in the face the neo-international worldview of many in western media. Putin, regardless of the harsh authoritarianism is delving headfirst to tackle the great crisis Western Civilization; the obliteration of our sovereignty and the death spiral of Western people.
Russia’s abundant supply of natural resources including oil, gas, and timber have allowed the nation to retain a certain realm of independence. Putin has done what many others in his position have failed, being a player in the world stage without being submissive to international expectations of judicial fairness, social justice and diversity. Putin’s opposition to conformity on social and economic justice is partly why many in the western media are over zealous to cover the recent protests of Putin’s re-election, yet it stands that many American conservatives who gawk at Putin would praise a leader of their own with such boldness. Conservatives fawn over Chris Christie just for standing up to teachers.
Putin, who has been labeled as the face of the resergent USSR and a KGB tyrant, has been able to withstand the international pressures of conformity. He has remained defiant against both President Bush and Obama, as well as Europe, on a wide array of issues including Syria, Iran, and Georgia. Putin’s defiance remained strong even when then Republican nominee John McCain in solidarity with Georgia during their 2008 conflict with Russia announced to the American people, “today we’re all Georgians”.
During the last decade, the European Union expanded its concentration of power and created the post modern state; where ideals of national sovereignty were laid to rest and in its place arose a new international governing system. The idea of unambiguous Europeans replaced the identity of Germans, French, Italians and Spanish and in the early part of the 21st century many liberal Europeans thought the EU had put an end to national politics. Liberals in Russia had many of the same hopes, that Russia would join such a union. Putin would have none of it, the Kremlin held strong to the ideals of sovereign democracy, that Russia would have sole authority of its domestic and foreign affairs. Now as the EU teeters on the brink of collapse, Putin’s re-election is the further defiance of post-nationalism.
The other issue that Putin has single handedly reversed for Russia is that of a demographic winter.
When Vladmir Putin first became President of Russia back in 2000, Russia had been on demographic decline since the fall of the Soviet Union. In 2000, Russia experienced 2.22 million deaths and only 1.26 million births. Russia was losing over 900,000 citizens annually and the depleting of people showed no signs of stopping. Putin was well aware of the demographic crisis facing Russia, and made it clear in his 2006 State of the Union. Putin put forward a plan to raise Russia’s birthrate including monetary incentives to large families.
Ulyanovsk, a region 550 miles east of Moscow declared September 12, National Conception Day and gave prizes on average of $10,000 to couples who bore children on that day. The holiday became the butt of many comedians jokes, nevertheless, the region recorded an increase of births by 4.5% over a two year period.
Since 2006,, when Putin made a national campaign of Russia’s demographic plight, Russia’s fertility rate has changed dramatically. In 2000 Russia’s fertility rate was 1.19, nearly a half of the 2.1 needed in order to sustain a population. In 2006 when Putin declared the “War on Infertility” had already risen to 1.296, by 2010 that number had risen to 1.56 and Russia’s annual population decline went from 958,000 in 2000 to 241,000 in 2010.
Russia sees its infertility issue as not just a cultural crisis to retain the Russian culture and pass it to the next generation but also a national defense issue. Russia’s Muslim regions including Chechnya, which has been an area of internal terrorism has been growing faster than the more Orthodox Christian regions. In Russia’s far east, the international consequences of Russia’s demographic time bomb are even worse. Six million Russians live on the eastern most part of Russia, rich in natural resources this area has been a prospective to be annexed by the Chinese. According to the Financial Times, Russia is “paranoid about the thinly populated eastern third of its landmass.” Russia’s loss of its future sons and daughters will be China’s economic gain.
Russia is not alone in the demographic crisis, nearly all European nations save Ireland and Iceland have under replacement fertility levels. Yet it is Putin alone who has the courage to deal with the how a demographic crisis may change Russia and the world.
Putin double down on his efforts, in April of 2011, Putin announced he would invest a stunning $52 billion in Russia’s demographic projects, Putin declared, “we need to save the people of Russia”. Under the plan, women who had two children would be eligible for a one time payment of $12,750, also included in the plan is increased child benefits and more affordable housing for young families.
Putin will never be a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize or be loved by the mainstream west, Russophobia is still widespread amongst many westerners. But Putin is doing more than just trying to kick start a stalled economy or deal with international crisis, Putin is trying to save an identity and a people, his people. For that cause, Putin is showing a bravery no other western leader dares tread. For his nationalism and tribalism, Putin is an enemy of the international progressive elite, however if he is successful there will still be a Russia in a future post-western world.