On March 18th, 2018, on the fourth anniversary of Crimea’s reunification with Russia which revolutionized the chessboard of 21st century geopolitics, the Russian Federation held presidential elections which were marked by some if not surprising, then emphatic features.
As of 23:49 MSK, 88.17% of ballots have been processed. Russian President Vladimir Putin has won re-election with 76.36% of the vote according to Sputnik and RIA Novosti’s live counters and 76.34% according to RT’s data. According to Sputnik, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation’s candidate, Pavel Grudinin, came in second with 12.10%, the Liberal Democratic Party’s Vladimir Zhirinovsky with 5.87%, and the liberal candidate who mostly campaigned in the United States, Ksenia Sobchak, with 1.58%.
As is unfortunately the case with most political processes in this era of transition from declining unipolarity to emerging multipolarity in international relations, simply reporting on events such as Russian elections requires sifting through and deconstructing fallacious Western media simulacra.
For example, CNN’s typically venomous coverage, this time under the obnoxious title “Putin retains grip on power”, initially claimed that “Putin’s biggest problem” for re-election would be voter turnout, but has since edited its piece to suggest that “the number of people who turned out this time was not immediately clear.” On the contrary, Russia’s electoral committee, relevant monitoring officials, and international observers have stressed since the first reports began to come in that voter turnout has surpassed that of the 2012 elections and is now preliminarily estimated at 60%. Not to mention Putin’s landslide win, this turnout is tangibly high for 21st century democratic processes and is a firm testimony to Russians’ understanding of the stakes involved in electing their president.
CNN also decried the Russian elections in alleging that Putin faced “no meaningful opposition in the running and his fiercest opponent, Alexei Navalny, [was] barred from the race.” Anyone who reads anything beyond CNN and other long-since-discredited mainstream Western media lines knows very well that Navalny was barred from running because of his criminal record and that, even if he had been miraculously allowed to run against the law, Navalny would have remained what he always has been: a few-percenter whose visibility is due purely to Western PR work aimed at positioning him as a “sacred victim” of Russians’ refusal to accept Washington’s agenda for their country.
Also noteworthy in the 2018 Russian presidential elections is a distinct decrease in irregularities and violations compared to past elections. As of 20:23 MSK, Russia’s Central Electoral Commission had not received “a single serious complaint” from voters, parties, or candidates, which has been attested to by international observers. Incidents that have been reported by third party organizations have numbered significantly fewer than in past elections, and are now under official investigation, but have been deemed un-influential on the outcome of the elections by Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, which deployed around 275,000 officers to aid law enforcement, electoral committee members, and civil society organizations in safeguarding election processes.
This means that the Russian elections proceeded more effectively than in recent years, despite the fact that Russia’s electoral commission reported hacking attacks from up to 15 foreign countries on its internet resources and despite the fact that Ukraine has officially, openly blockaded Russian citizens from exercising their right to vote at embassies and consulates around the disintegrating country, a gross violation of international law and civil rights which the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights said it cannot comment on because its spokesman “knows no international standards.”
Moreover, as far as one can judge from social media feeds and still incomplete but incoming calculations, the voter turnout of Russians living abroad has seen a significant increase. Fort Russ’ own reporters in Belgrade, Serbia confirmed this impression at the polling station at the Russian Embassy.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of the 2018 Russian presidential elections, however, is Putin’s landslide victory over the second-place candidate, Grudinin. As several Fort Russ authors repeatedly analyzed, Grudinin’s campaign posed a significant challenge insofar as it revitalized the long-since stagnant, yet still immensely popular and critical Communist Party of the Russian Federation, by pushing for a greater focus on addressing Russia’s post-Soviet domestic socio-economic problems in tandem with pushing for a more adamant foreign policy vis-a-vis the Atlanticist war on Russia. While some analysts claimed that Grudinin was more of a media product than a genuine opposition, others, including myself, thought that Grudinin’s candidacy represented a watershed moment for envisioning a successful Russian multipolar project after Putin himself exits the scene. Putin’s immense victory confirms that the Russian people are overwhelmingly confident in Putin’s strategy of combining stability with calculated advances, and that Putin’s job is not done yet.
As always, we at Fort Russ will continue to monitor the situation and offer critical analyses and summations which cannot be found elsewhere, and which shatter CNN and co.’s fake news agendas. If the Russian elections proved anything relevant to concerned people like us, it is that informed citizens are capable of determining their country’s course despite Western media disinformation.