For nearly 18 years Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia — and ruled is indeed the operative word, rather like the czars of old. This week he was “nominated” for a fourth term as president because, of course, he still likes to maintain the image of democracy in a nation which long ago abandoned its actual practice.
So it seemed unlikely that a charismatic anti-corruption activist, Aleksei Navalny, would have actually been able to beat Putin — even in a fair contest, which the upcoming March election would not have been. (Navalny’s name can’t even be mentioned on state TV.) Still Putin is apparently at a stage in his life and his career where he’s not about to take chances.
And on Monday the Kremlin’s Central Election Commission officially barred Navalny from running for president, citing a previous suspended sentence in a fraud case. That the case was politically motivated in the first place simply fits in with the way of life in Russia these days.
Navalny responded by calling for a boycott of the election, which must have made Putin even angrier, because authorities then warned Navalny that he would face charges if he organizes a boycott.
Yes, it is “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” Moscow-style.
Putin is no doubt afraid that an insufficiently large turnout would cast doubt on the legitimacy of his inevitable win.
“The process in which we are called to participate is not a real election,” Navalny said in a video posted online. No one here or there should doubt that for a moment.
©2017 the Boston Herald
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