Russia holds Presidential elections today.
International advisers arrived to ensure the voting process is executed in the proper order as prescribed by the United Nations charter (which the Kremlin has undersigned but never upheld), a debate between candidates was shown on national TV (to which the main candidate did not participate) and some measure of opposition was allowed (Reality TV star Ksenia Sobchak yes, opposition candidate Alexei Navalny no).
But no one in the world has the slightest doubt that Vladimir Putin will simply be elected for another term. The only question is the win percentage. Somewhere in the region of 65-70% to make it believable or rather 90-95% like the former regimes of Hussein (Iraq) or Khadaffi (Libya) to ensure loyalty.
Mr Putin has flexed his muscles in the weeks and months before the elections, making sure that all willing and able Russians saw that their beloved leader is still standing strong and feared in the west.
There was a carefully staged dip in a frozen river to please the Orthodox church about two months ago, and in the fortnight before the election weekend some vocal foreign Russian critics in the UK died under ‘mysterious circumstances’ or were poisoned with a ‘nerve agent’ that could only be manufactured in Russia.
During a PR operation on US television, when asked by Ms Megyn Kelly whether he had interfered in the US Presidential election of 2016, Mr Putin simply stated that he didn’t care enough about it to interfere and then laughed the question away.
It is clear why Mr Putin feels secure: As far as the Russian populace is concerned (1) in Syria they emerged victorious, (2) in Europe the Red Army is feared again, (3) in the US the current White House Administration is only thinking about ‘America First’ and (4) in China, his communist neighbours have just appointed their own beloved leader, Mr Xi Jinping, for life.
Of course, the national currency has dropped tremendously and inflation is rampant but most Russians never cross the borders anyway so as long as the Russian TV stations keep blaming the west for the current state of the economy, most of them believe it.
Putin will go down as the first Tsar of the twenty-first century in Russian history books, so much is certain, the only question is whether he will be compared to ‘Peter The Great’ or ‘Ivan The Terrible’. In any case, as from tomorrow, Mr Putin has a few more years to rewrite history.