There were "serious problems" in the vote that returned Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency, the head of the major international election observer mission said Monday, adding fuel to an opposition testing its strength with plans for a massive protest rally.
Putin rolled to victory as expected Sunday to return to the Kremlin and keep his hold on power for six more years, but opponents claim the voting was rigged. A rally has been set for Monday evening on Moscow's Pushkin Square, one of the central city's most iconic locations, with news reports say some 12,000 police and troops will be on duty to ensure order.
A brief synopsis by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observer mission did not address complaints of widespread cases of people casting multiple ballots, but said the election "was assessed negatively" in almost a third of polling stations observers visited.
Well, I mean, it's not as blatant as stealing 600 votes in Florida, or the entire state of Ohio, but it's not a good way to kick off your "re-election."
Earlier protests across Russia, according to RT.com-- think Putin's Pravda-- that upwards of 30,000 people protested in St. Petersburg ahead of the election, which means it was probably more like 50,000. And that was in support of fair elections, not protesting Putin's theft.
The mayor of Moscow (not Mikail Blombergski, by the way) has already categorically stated that no permanent encampments will be allowed in his city, so at least one Russian is aware of the historic parallels.
What drives a zealoted tyrant to decide that he's above the law, above the people? The afore-referenced Michael Bloomberg defied not one but two ballot referenda and ran for a third term as mayor of New York City. Likewise, President Bush stole two elections. Neither man is particularly beloved by his people and neither has had an administration worth discussing except as examples of what happens when bad men steal power and become tin-plated dictators with delusions of grandeur.
Yes, power is seductive and yes, power is useful, but it is corrupting and wresting power wrongly is always, always, a bad idea.