Editorial: Putin’s Huge Win In Sham Poll

Editorial: Putin’s Huge Win In Sham Poll

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Wednesday, March 20, 2024, 11:16 PM IST
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Russian President Vladimir Putin | File

The Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin has won yet another landslide victory in the sham election Russia, China and North Korea regularly stage to give their unbroken grip on power a veneer of democratic selection. In fact, if anything goes missing from these elections is a free and fair vote. Like the biped cattle the State agencies collar voters into polling booths at the pain of severe punishment and ensure that they vote for the reigning dictator. Only in the Orwellian world would Putin’s or, for that matter, President Xi Jinping’s and Kim Jong Un’s periodic renewal of lien on the levers of power would remotely pass for a popular choice. Having somehow got into power by stifling all dissidence and marginalising all rivals, the trio arranges to win election after election an unbroken and untrammelled control over their respective countries. Putin winning after the three-day nation-wide polling with more than 87% of the popular vote was not a miracle. The miracle was those 13% who despite fear of severe reprisals by Putin’s agents and agencies still had the courage to register the protest. A good number among the brave thirteen percent were paying tribute to the courageous Opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, who died in a remote gulag at the hands of the Putin regime. Into his sixth consecutive term now, Putin is set to have a term longer than dictator Joseph Stalin. Selling the vision of Make-Russia-Great-Again a la Donald Trump, his old friend and US Presidential candidate, despite the death of tens of thousands of Russians in the ongoing war against Ukraine, a section of the people seem to have bought into his hyper-nationalism. Anyone uttering a word edgeways against a wasteful war now into third year is thrown into prison or violently assaulted by Putin’s thugs. Given the strong clamps on all avenues of information other than those controlled by the State, ordinary Russians perforce remain completely in the dark while swallowing Putin’s propaganda. Unfortunately, the US and the European Union have been rather fitful in their support to Ukraine with arms, ammunitions and funds for the latter’s war effort not to flag against a gigantic war machine. It is an unequal fight with Ukraine having nothing to go for it bar its determination to defend its territorial integrity against a much bigger and better equipped enemy. Without the US and the EU Ukraine could not have withstood the aggression this long. Unfortunately, if Trump, Putin’s friend, returns to the White House, Putin may win by default. The leader of the free world would then stand guilty of aiding and abetting the Russian autocrat. Putin threatening to thrust nuclear weapons into the war, should he find himself on the back foot, underlines the fear factor that seizes all dictators when contemplating the loss of power or a popular uprising. The Western leaders ought to discount these threats as the unhinged musings of a power-drunk autocrat.

On the other hand, the West needs to ponder why despite stringent economic sanctions against Russia following the attack on Ukraine, Russia’s economy seems to be doing well. In some ways, the Russian economy has improved, with its oil and gas being exported unhindered to China, India and several other countries. Remarkably, the Indian foreign policy passed a tough test when in the last two years of Putin’s war it learnt to keep friends with Russia and the West simultaneously. The Americans know about India’s compulsions, having in the past relied exclusively for arms supplies, and, now, our need to be friends with Putin for fear of driving him deep into Xi’s embrace. Therefore, aside from the two communist nations India is the only significant country to congratulate Putin on his election. The West called it a sham election, which of course it was. Despite India’s good relations with Russia, in recent years we have increasingly begun to source our defence and hi-tech security requirements from the US and EU. The old global order is broken. Hegemony of the US as the sole world power is under threat from a rising China. In a multi-polar world peace has become fragile. India, a rising economic and military power, will have to learn to live with the Russian dictator on one side and an American President on the other. It requires nimble-footedness which thus far the Modi government has displayed aplenty.

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