Monday, May 31, 2004

Op-Ed in Monday's Boston Globe Re: Putin

Aleksander Lebedev makes a case for the rise of democracy in Russia over the past fifteen years. He certainly has a case for saying that democracy is more in effect now than fifteen years ago. Communism as a government, and the federation then known as the USSR, ceased to exist only thirteen years ago, in 1991, so naturally, what little democracy is seen in Russia can certainly be said to be greater.

Lebedev then goes on to expound an exasperating rationale for acceptance of Putin's electioneering tactics:
"You hear a lot of talk in the West about media manipulation and ballot box conspiracies in recent Russian elections. But Putin’s reelection campaign should be regarded as a reverse paradigm of Ronald Reagan’s campaign question in 1980: Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Since the answer in Russia was an overwhelming ‘‘yes,’ voters did not see any real alternative to Putin."

So, even though Putin may well have rigged the election, the voters intended to vote for him anyway? What kind of warped circle logic is that?

He is right, of course, that "voters did not see any real alternative to Putin" since Putin controlled the state-owned media and used it to both issue his ads and restrict the advertising of his competitors. Of course there was no alternative seen...

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