Prime Minister Putin blamed unusual unrest over last week’s Russian parliamentary elections largely on Secretary of State Clinton, whom he accuses of sending a signal to US-supported anti-government activists in Russia. Clinton had expressed support for fair elections after a Russian electoral watchdog group claimed many cases of fraud and irregularities marked this year’s process.
The US has certainly funded opposition groups around the world to make sure its ‘allies’ win elections, most notoriously fixing the first post WW2 Italian ballot.
But please! The Russian people don’t need Clinton to stir up unrest. Putin has done that himself. Putin’s United Russia’s representation fell to 238 from 315, gaining just under 50% of the vote. That’s taken the Kremlin leadership by surprise. But it’s not just the elections that are causing public resentment towards official Russia.
Putin served two terms as Russian President. Because he was prohibited from serving a third consecutive term, his protegé Dimitri Medvedev ran in the last election and immediately pointed Putin as Prime Minister after he won. This year, Putin can run for president again, so he and Medvedev again switched places with the understanding that a President Putin will make Medvedev his Prime Minister. (Geez, how Russian can you get – this is how stereotypes take hold!)
Blaming unrest on Clinton shows Putin as weak. Like Arab autocrats claiming the Arab Spring is instigated by foreign agents, Putin is grabbing at anything to explain why Russians are rebelling.
The Russian opposition has called for a massive demonstration this Saturday. Reports say 30,000 people have signed up to go already. Suffice it to say the Russian police are not used to controlling crowds this size. A wrong move by either side could cause bloodshed. Putin only added to the tension by claiming foreign interference with the elections and putting the Russian police on edge against ‘foreign elements’.
The situation is unprecedented in modern Russian history.