Russian Democracy: As Well Off, or Not?

Russian PR

Sometimes when bad PR events happen, true or not, there’s just no crisis management that seems to do. Such may be the case for Russia’s most famous citizen, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. About the time a Russian Federation citizen uploaded onto YouTube, footage of apparently rigged elections activities, Putin’s glowing star started descending. Just how far, remains to be seen.

Deals with China to rule the world. Rumors of a new “Cold War” – grandstanding or superb political machinations, however you classify Vladimir Putin, you have to admire the guy. A “mans man” or boyishly endowed as he hugs a Bulgarian puppy, a gift from a contemporary – symbolic of? Putin is, controversial, always. Only this time, in a sometimes frigid land where mistrust is a way of life, things may have gotten out of hand. The video below is, at best, horrendous PR for Putin and his party.

Whether or not it was fear of losing power, marked by early polls suggesting United Russia would lose its majority in the Duma, that provoked “fixing” (it matters little if the allegations are true or not), no one can know. For Putin, the most powerful leader Russia has had since Brezhnev, these events have to have tipped the scales.

Boris Nemtsov, leader of the opposition, asked voters to spoil their ballots in protest of the whole process. Experts say up to 80% of Russians believe voting is useless in any event. Putin, or any other Russian for the matter, cannot feel the slightest bit egotistical even, knowing they are feared only, rather than supported. The whole mess of Russian Federation PR, where the world view matters, has now take another nosedive.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that Putin and his party have lost popular support in this election for the first time in the Premier’s leadership. Forbes dubbed Putin “the world’s second most powerful person,” but just as being second makes competitors try harder, so too 3rd place looms large for some. A bit of bad news or bad luck here, a fixed ballot box there, and Communist Russia does not seem so far off a concept. Rumors of the Ukraine back under Russia’s wing, talks over Moldova, the world wonders at what will come next.

Putin, despite the obvious naysayers in the western press, is likely not the great evil this PR goof would suggest. But then, it’s the perception that counts, isn’t it? Many Russia gurus seem disappointed in the legacy being shaped by Putin, and Dmitry Medvedev – a whole generation, it seems, had high hopes that could as easily come to an end with Putin’s demise. Fyodor Lukyanov, of Russia Beyond the Headlines, reflects this a bit. Meahwhile, Masha Lipman, an analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center predicts Putin will win the Presidency despite all the ruckus. But is being President really winning? Somehow, one must think, just the Presidency is not enough for this leader.

And face it, the train station at Ekaterinburg, Ipatieve House, is reserved for all Russians who go too far.


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