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Russians Told: Vote for Putin's Party ... or Else

If ever a person has been fooled it is Bush, and how he has been so easily led down 'the rose garden path' by Putin, aided by the soothing and cooing words of the insufferable Condi Rice...Her specialty, apart from being a lifelong lickspittle, is the Kremlin, so she has to take her share of the blame for Bush's naivete.

Bush uncompehendingly: "I looked the man (I call him Vladimir) in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. ... I was able to get a sense of his soul." from June 16, 2001, BBC Report Bush and Putin: Best of friends

Then February 25, 2005; in response to Putin's: "Russia has made its choice in favor of democracy. This is our final choice, and we have no way back.", Bush said: "The most important statement.. I heard, was when he declared his absolute support for democracy in Russia, (that) they're not turning back." He went on to vouch for Putin's credibility. "When he tells you something, he means it." (Thank's Geoorge for being Putin's pr flack).

Condi ever the unctous courtier, just over a month ago, said reassuringly, "Like many of you, I visited the Soviet Union, I studied in the Soviet Union, and I will tell you: Russia today is not the Soviet Union"..It has been a case of the willfully blind, Condi leading the witlessly blind, Bush.

Putin the ex-steely, undoubtedly murderous KGB major, now even gets to fete with the top free world leaders since the G7 was expanded to the G8, in 1998. This was in retrospect, unfortunately part of Clinton's doing.

From the Counciil of Foreign Relations, Alexander Silver, " President Clinton--encouraged the former Soviet Union's accession to the forum. Experts say it was more of a "gesture toward Yeltsin"..But Putin is no Yeltsin, just as Bush is no Clinton. And there is more. From the Silver Backgrounder article

Russia's increasing reversal of democratic reforms stands in contrast with the group's raison d'être. Russia's economic but particularly its political status--President Putin's authoritarian rule and his reversal of democratic trends--do not seem to meet the group's standards. This criticism comes from within Russia as well as from abroad. Andrei Illarionov, Putin's former economic adviser who resigned in protest, has argued that attendance at the St. Petersburg summit (2006), lends support to an undemocratic regime, and goes against the G8's principles.

Since Putin was sworn in as president of Russia in May of 2000, he has consolidated power, and democracy in that country has gone pear-shaped. It's time for Bush and Condi to look at the present reality in Russia and not give Putin the fig leaf of respectability that the Bush administration confers on him, when it constantly advises us that Russia is not turning back to the Soviet Union, when it is, in fact, becoming a fully paid up police state.

Russia are having elections today for the Duma, but they are not really elections, since the voters are forced to vote for only one party...Putin's of course. From the The London Sunday Times Russians Told: Vote for Putin's Party ... or Else

WHEN Anya Kaluyeva, a Russian primary school teacher, was summoned to her boss's office last week, she expected to discuss a new set of textbooks. The conversation quickly took a more sinister turn.

The head teacher asked the 48-year-old whom she intended to vote for in today's parliamentary elections. When she hesitated, he ordered her to support United Russia, the party backed by President Vladimir Putin. He then issued a warning.

"He made it clear that if I didn't vote for United Russia I'd lose my job," said Kaluyeva, a mother of two who lives in a small town south of Moscow.

"I was so shocked I was left speechless. He put me under pressure and hinted that he had ways of checking who I'd voted for. I felt I was back in the Soviet Union."

There has been mounting evidence that voters have come under intense pressure to vote for United Russia. State employees ranging from teachers to doctors and factory workers have been ordered to cast their ballot for Putin and United Russia or face reprisals, including dismissal or demotion.

University students have accused professors of threatening them with expulsion or poor marks unless they vote for the Kremlin's favoured party.

Some students have been told to vote at polling stations on campus, supervised by a lecturer, while others have been led to believe that hidden cameras have been installed in polling booths.

Workers at one factory in the Urals have claimed that their boss ordered them to take a photograph of their ballot paper with their mobile phone to prove they voted for United Russia.

At another state enterprise, in Siberia, the management received a letter from the local branch of United Russia warning that the Kremlin had been informed of its refusal to contribute funds to the party's election campaign. "Your refusal has been taken as a direct rejection of Putin and his course," it read.

A Moscow doctor, who was too scared to give his name, said the director of his clinic had told staff to vote for United Russia or their state funding would cease.

I remember one old Soviet Communist wag saying the trouble with having (western styled elections) is "You don't know who will win"...That's never a problem in Putin's Russia.

UPDATE: Monday. And the winner is.....

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