President Vladmir Putin has set in motion an impressive election machine that will guarantee his United Russia party will gain at least 70% of the votes in this week’s election. United Russia has completely dominated what is reported on television. They have received 60% of news coverage in prime time and recent debates between members of other political parties was shown at 7:00 am and at midnight leading to only 1.5% of Russians ever seeing the event. According to Federal Election Chief, Vladmir Churov commented when asked about the limited exposure by TV to other political parties, “if a party does nothing, how can we expect the media to cover it?” Of course, whatever United Russia does must, by definition, be something of worth. Golos, an independent national election observer, is concerned at the incredible increase in the number of absentee ballots which probably is due to pressure from employers that their workers vote for United Russia and by having absentee ballots they can check to see they vote the right way. Golos has received 1,131 phone calls in which 43% of callers complain about election abuses that favor United Russia.
Vladmir Putin is an intelligent manipulator of elections. He avoids brutal actions and works behind the scene to ensure his party will score an impressive victory. Perhaps, President Musharraf can learn something from him about how to win while, technically, being legal.