Russia after the election
Yesterday the Russian Central Election Commission finished counting all ballot papers in the March 4 presidential elections. Vladimir Putin got 63.6% of the vote and won the presidential race in the first round. Political scientists, social activists, analysts sum up the results of the presidential elections in Russia, paying attention to changes, which have happened during three months since the parliamentary elections, and possibility of changing the foreign political course.
Head of the Institute of the CIS Countries, Konstantin Zatulin
The presidential elections were held not only in Russia, but also abroad. This time number of ballot stations abroad was unprecedented. We can see online messages on win of this or that candidate at these ballot stations. As a rule, they said about wins of Mikhail Prokhorov in London, Tokyo and Washington: and it is predictable, considering his position as a candidate to presidency. However, there is such notion in the policy as “close abroad countries,” the former Soviet republics. Here the elections were intensive too. I have visited Ukraine and other countries ahead of the elections. I can say that the elections in Russia are perceived in the former Soviet countries as a very important thing for building further relations with Russia. The same thing concerns the conflict zones and unrecognized countries, I mean Transdniestria, as Abkhazia and South Ossetia are recognized by Russia.
Some of our journalists have found job in Ukraine, including Eugenie Kiselev. Ahead of the elections I participated in his talk-show. Participants were typical: Boris Berezovsky, Ilya Yashin, Ksenia Sobchak, Mikhail Shevchenko and me. Of course, a certain picture is presented. Ilya Yashin, who was expelled from Yabloko in 2008, told Ukrainian electorate that Putin is hiding in a hole and waiting for people’s court. This point of view is far from reality. Luckily we have other opportunities. Many people watch Russian TV, visit and work in Russia. Thus results of the elections in close abroad differ from in far abroad. Prokhorov is not a favorite here. Putin and Zyuganov are main rivals in the countries of the former Soviet space.
Activeness of ethnic diasporas is natural in the context, when the ethnic issue is very important in Russia. During this election campaign Vladimir Putin devoted a separate article to the ethnic issue. The majority of candidates avoided the theme. And in this situation ethnic diasporas supported stability.
Special envoy of President on international cultural cooperation, Mikhail Shvydkoy
The reaction of the Western media and political forces is expected. I’m sure there will be no long discussions of falsifications in the elections by the Western media. Number of observers from other countries, the opposition and civil organizations was unprecedented. In general both close and far abroad were ready for Putin’s victory, and during the last week few people doubted it would happen in the first round. It is difficult to admit the fact by Western journalists, as there is a certain social order. The victory is obvious. Another question is whether the foreign political course would be continued or not. It is evident that the position of Russia is firm on several important issues. It makes Russia an important player in the global political life. As for humanitarian cooperation, continuation is obvious. The fact we would develop integration in the Eurasian Union is obvious too. I think it is clear that old political players yield to new forces. I think we will see expected policy by Putin. At the same time, this policy would be provided in the changed social situation, thus, it would be corrected.
Editor-in-chief of the magazine “Russia in the global policy” Fyodor Lukyanov
I think in comparison with emotions and negative attitude to the previous elections, this time the situation would be calmer. There would be no powerful strike on legitimacy of the elections and President. Everybody is already discussing how the policy of Putin would change from Medvedev’s. The reality wins. Great efforts were taken for avoiding formal issues with voting and increase transparency. Even though many people consider these measures nominal, denying their existence is nonsense, and it reduces negative attitudes. At the same time, Russia is the country, which cannot be ignored. After Russia has taken a firm position on Syria, the world has to meet Russia halfway. And now the Russian position is considered as reasonable.
Deputy Secretary of the Public Chamber of Russia, Vladislav Grib
We organized social observing at the parliamentary elections and presidential elections. There are differences. Today every second citizen of the country is an observer. At my ballot station there were 22 observers. Putin and Medvedev were interested in maximal legitimacy of these elections. However, the observing delegation of the OSCE was rather skeptical ahead of the elections. Even maximal transparency is considered by them negatively.