viernes, 1 de noviembre de 2013

On Russia´s Elections Fraud: Why It Matters

The presidential elections´ report has come in and Putin has, unsurprisingly, won again. Last December, in the parliamentary elections, many watchdogs and observers denounced a clear election fraud, which many interpreted as a prelude to today´s victory. Putin´s return to the Kremlin has not been without controversy, with many claiming fraud again. As this may be true, there is little benefit in talking about it. This article deals with it enough. Instead, we must now wonder what can we all expect from Russia´s new government. The following post, written last December per the parliamentary elections, deals with some of these consequences. However, I would add to these consequences what will come from Russia´s recent denial to pass a resolution in the UN Security Council which would clear the path for UN troops to enter Syria and fight the Assad regime. It must be remembered that Russia has a good sized arms commerce deal established with the Syrians, which accounts for many jobs in the steel industry. At least until an alternative is found for these people (another country willing to buy such weapons), the Russians will not likely approve a resolution against Syria. Another point worth considering is that Putin´s presidency has been characterized by a strong sense of anti-West feeling that gets to the nationalist extreme quite quickly. The question looms: Will Putin push an army reformation policy and further beef up against the US´ missile shield or will he seek out alternate, non-military ways to strengthen Russian economics? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There have been lots of talk about Russia´s recent electoral fraud,  which placed Putin´s party in power again by a 140% of the votes. How that was possible is really not a concern at this point. However, its profound implications are of the utmost relevance.
Since the years previous to the Cold War, Russia has been perceived by most Westerners as a distant land, a place where one could easily get lost and where one enters a different reality. We were raised to so believe, and thus such is the mental image we have created in our minds of Russia. Such being the case, everything that happens in Russia seemed to us, at least until recent years, removed from our reality. One day, Russia became democratic, and then we started paying real attention to it. And this we did only until then because that was when we felt like they truly belonged in the modern world. Theperestroika had shown us such a different Russia, and now we had to make room in our collective mind for globalized Russia. The country started then, to play the globalization game, where everything matters. Therefore, their electoral processes matter to us all, as much as the news would have us believe that the GOP nomination is all that matters.
That being said, let us consider why the recent fraud matters to the rest of the world:
  • Russia is a big player in the politics and economics of Eastern Europe, which has business deals with it through many industries, mainly in the raw material industry. It leaves Russia a great profit, but it also ties its political processes to those of many nations now involved with the Eurozone. Now, there is no need to explain why the Eurozone matters to us. This considering, it it clear that economic decisions made in Russia will ultimately affect the prices of commodities and other goods we enjoy daily such as cellphones, computers, tablets, etc.
  • As it has been regarded for a very long time, Russia does constitute a big military block in the east of the world, which must be regarded with due relevance.It represents one of the largest land extensions on the planet unified under a single banner, if not the largest. This also means it is a huge potential battleground to be feared should it all ever come down to war with Russia. Let us all remember the defeat of the French and German troops in the past. Besides, its extensive land also means in military terms that the Russians could mount quite a long defence were they to fight. In this sense, it must be considered just how easily will political and legislative processes would work in Russia was Putin reelected in the next casting of ballots.
  • The old tensions with nations formerly belonging to the USSR have not ceased, yet are kept in check by the Russian existence and solid grip on diplomacy, however force based it might appear at times. By making its government tumble, one would only see that the fragile stability that now holds the region together would be shattered and its domino effect would quickly affect the weakened Eurozone, risking even Estonia which has managed to maintain its economic stability in spite of the storm.
  • The recent skirmishing between Iran and the US is not entirely removed from Russian interests, as Iran is closer geographically to Russia and any confrontation with the US might end up requiring Russian participation even if only to contain damage from spreading to smaller, nearby nations. This kind of decision would obviously need congressional and presidential sanction, preceded by months of diplomacy. One then is left to wonder as to the kind of diplomacy Putin would enforce as president, with the congress by his side. Putin is known to be a man of action with a keen sense of foresight in the political international arena. Perhaps he has already thought of this probable conflagration with the Iranians, and is planning to make his move when the time comes.
  • Finally, the South Stream pipeline just approved represents a line of communication as well as an umbilical cord of sort with Europe. The profits and revenues this pipeline will cause are enormous, and Russian central government will want to be on top of the process in order to maintain its grip on economic development. What is truly interesting about this is that the pipeline is a joint effort with France, Italy and Germany, which happen to be three of the countries with the highest stakes in the Eurozone. This begs the question: Are these countries already preparing to jump the ship by ensuring a different source of income once the euro falls? A three-year plan as the pipeline would be sounds like a good backup plan for such a time.
The fact is, then, that Russia´s elections matter to all. Whether because of economic, military or social motives, the entire world must pay attention to what happens in Russia and adapt to the new conditions already in motion.
UPDATE: The recent news of Russian troops being already on standby waiting for a UN sanctioned action is proof the the Russian government is already mounting up its defenses and preparing to intervene. In my opinion, it might just be in Russia´s best interest to elect a president and a government ready to wage war instead of a conservative one which will stand on the sidelines relying on the pipeline and the steel exports.

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