This month’s embroglio between the Kremlin and former Right Cause party leader Mikhail Prokhorov followed by this week’s anticipated announcement that Vladimir Putin will stand as United Russia’s presidential candidate, underscores what little role Russians play in deciding their future. On the one hand, as Prokhorov learned, any hint of a challenge to the Kremlin’s governing system is effectively quashed, and on the other hand, all that doesn’t really matter because Russia’s future is already rigged.
As Russia lurches towards another scripted presidential election, and the world no longer holds its breath in anticipation of the ruling tandem’s decision as to who will next occupy the Kremlin, one can only sympathize with a Russian citizenry unable to determine its country’s future but who also choose not to. Little has changed since the the last time Vladimir Putin held the world in suspense.
In the months leading to Russia’s March 2008 presidential election, the Kremlin’s feared OMON special forces beat and arrested opposition members and sympathizers. After being flooded with life-size propaganda glorifying the ruling tandem and lambasting an already strangled opposition, Russians filed into voting centers to legitimize a predetermined electoral process void of debate and real choice.