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IN A completely anticipated result, Vladimir Putin's hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, was elected Russia's president with a 'landslide' vote last Sunday. Medvedev won 70% of the vote with his nearest challenger Gennady Zyuganov of the 'communist' party securing 18%.
Putin's regime went to great lengths to ensure the result. Medvedev's main opponent, the former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, was ruled out of the contest. Putin's man also enjoyed a near monopoly of TV coverage and celebrity endorsements. The heads of state institutions, factory bosses, etc, 'encouraged' workers to vote for Medvedev.
Putin, having been constitutionally prevented from standing for a third term, will now become prime minister, effectively continuing to run Russia with Medvedev as a proxy.
Putin boasts that he has brought stability and prosperity and restored Russia's national pride after the president Yeltsin years - in which the restoration of capitalism spelt disaster for most people's living standards as industry collapsed, culminating in the economic meltdown of 1998.
However, while a pro-Putin billionaire oligarchy has benefitted from the country's recovery, this upswing has bypassed most Russians.
More material on Russia will appear on www.socialistworld.net
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