by Sarah Hurst
“A strong president – a strong Russia” is Vladimir Putin’s election slogan, now gracing his new campaign website and billboards all over the country. Remarkably, with very little effort Putin has reportedly already collected 500,000 signatures in his own support, and will continue to collect more even though he only needs 300,000 to get on the ballot on March 18.
Putin has little to worry about, if a poll published today is anything to go by. It says that if the election were held this Sunday, he would get 73.8 percent of the vote, followed by Communist candidate Pavel Grudinin with 7.2 percent. Grudinin’s campaign can’t have been helped much by the fact that a veteran called Sergei Zakharov died the other day after one of his speeches, and the meeting continued with Zakharov’s body lying on the floor covered with a black bin bag.
Wouldn’t bury Lenin
Also, someone edited the introduction to a Wikipedia article about the Russian election to say that Putin is the winner, and a picture of Putin under the word “Winner” briefly appeared in a Google search of “Russian election 2018”. Putin is taking no chances. As usual he will depict himself as the calm voice of reason by contrast with his eternal fake rival Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who launched into a hate-filled rant about destroying Ukraine on Russian TV recently. Putin has said that he would not bury Lenin, because the Russian people don’t need “sharp shocks that divide society”. He also compared Lenin’s remains to the relics of Christian saints, saying that Communism and Christianity are very similar – in an effort to shore up his appeal to all constituencies.
Putin’s campaign website is absolutely Soviet in the style of its headlines praising the president’s ostensible achievements. Here is a flavour of what can be found on it, including an inspirational quote.
“Without any doubt, everything should be aimed at increasing citizens’ incomes.” Vladimir Putin
World Youth Festival in Sochi is biggest in history of movement
Russian institutions get into top 50 universities in BRICS
Putin extends “mothers’ capital” until 2022
Level of alcohol use halves
Level of crime down, number of prisoners reduced
Waiting lists for childcare facilities almost eliminated
Number of orphans in Russia halves
Since introducing sanctions we have 20 percent more domestic fruit and vegetables
Illegal logging has almost been wiped out
Russia gets 12.5 million more hectares of nature reserves
Agricultural exports increase 15-fold
Interest rates for mortgages and loans decrease
Share of cars made in Russia doubles in 17 years
Aircraft production increases 10-fold
Economy’s dependence on the oil and gas sector has reduced
Russia has come out of a two-year sanctions depression
In 10 years Russia has moved 24 places up in global competitiveness index
Real wages increase 3.5-fold since 2000
Country’s international reserves increase significantly
Categories: Campaign diary