Democracy, Putin style

The following declaration has been issued by 20 Russian human rights organisations, including the Helsinki Group:

“Russia’s social, political and human rights movements and organisations sharing such values as respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights are appalled by the bandit methods of opposing public control over elections in our country.

“The most flagrant incident occurred on 26 April, 2015, at the elections in the town of Zheleznodorozhny in the Moscow area, where observers successfully prevented ballot box stuffing, detained the person perpetrating it, gathered evidence exposing the culprits. After that the observers were attacked with the aim of destroying the evidence of the stuffing attempt. As a result, the observers suffered grievous bodily harm, while their photo- and video-equipment was destroyed or stolen. One of the observers, Stanislav Pozdniakov, suffered a concussion, pulmonary injury and rupture of the gall bladder which then had to be removed. S. Pozdniakov’s very life was in danger.

“Crimes against observers present a grave danger to society because they compromise and criminalise the very institution of elections. Such crimes, especially when committed with impunity, undermine the legitimacy of the elected government and trust in it.

“Since the crime was committed we have not only not seen any serious efforts to solve it or to find and punish the culprits, but quite the opposite. We observe highly placed representatives of electoral boards trying to cover up the evidence and exonerate the bandits.

“This is especially outlandish, for violence against the observers cannot be set apart from the falsifications the observers were trying to stop.

“We demand that those who executed, organised and commissioned the assault on the observers be in short order found and prosecuted.

“Our organisations intend to monitor the investigation and start a campaign to support the victims and publicise the progress of the inquest.

“Our attention and efforts will not wane until the culprits have been punished.”

Yes, the culprits will be punished. And pigs will fly.

One of the arguments often put forth by the fans of Putin’s kleptofascist regime is its public support: polls show that most Russians love him and, as proof of that, he wins his electoral victories by landslides.

Now argumentum ad populum (“If many believe it, it is so”) is among the most toxic rhetorical fallacies. It’s only outdone in toxicity by its political offshoot: if people support their government, and especially if they vote it in, the government is both good and legitimate.

By his every action Vlad Putin refutes such rhetorical and political fallacies, thereby making a valuable contribution to the theory of both discourse and government.

Building on the solid foundations laid down by his precursors, Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin and Adolph Aloisevich Hitler, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has erected a structure of emetic propaganda and electoral fraud, one so vast that his fans see nothing beyond it.

I dare say that, say, in 1938 public support for Hitler in Germany must have been even higher than the 89% claimed for Putin in the most recent poll. And it was secured by exactly the same means: non-stop propaganda through every government medium, which is to say every medium: the state had total control over the flow of information, as it has in Putin’s Russia.

Even though the Germans weren’t given the chance of voting for or against Hitler after his 1933 triumph, chances are that in 1938 he would have won by a massive landslide. Goebbels’s propaganda, reinforced with the phoney prosperity created by rapid militarisation, did its job well.

Stalin’s situation was slightly different. Unlike Hitler, he murdered millions of his own people, and some of the terrified and starving survivors felt rather put off by it. Some, but not all that many: Bolshevik propaganda was even more comprehensive and, shall we say, totalitarian than the Nazi equivalent.

Hence Stalin would have possibly won even real elections, not the sham ones regularly served to a populace delirious from hunger and shaking with fear. But Stalin didn’t like to leave anything to chance. “It doesn’t matter how votes are cast,” he once uttered. “What matters is how they are counted.”

Vladimir Vladimirovich has learned the lessons taught by Iosif Vissarionovich and Adolph Aloisevich. And, like a truly talented pupil, he has outdone his teachers.

Vlad likes to control not only how the votes are counted, but also how they are cast. Hence the numerous incidents like the one described in the declaration I’ve translated to the best of my ability.

I hope it’ll make an impression on you. It won’t make any on the Russians, for the simple reason that they won’t be able to read it. The declaration has been published in an on-line magazine, access to which is blocked within Russia.

Vlad doesn’t want his public support to drop, and he has found a way of preventing such a calamity. Kill a couple of hundred journalists, rough up a few more, monopolise the mass media, and public support will follow with the certainty of night following day.

And then who knows? Perhaps Vlad will learn another lesson from his typological ancestors and, just like Lenin, acquire his ‘useful idiots’ in the West. Except that Vlad’s, unlike Lenin’s, will come from the right.  



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