Sean Guillory, Getting Russia Wrong

Almost two years ago, right after the most recent elections to the Russian Duma, Russia blogger Sean Guillory penned a tract for Aljazeera about the state of politics in Putin’s Russia.  It’s interesting to review what (little) he got right and what he (mostly) got wrong.

Guillory wrote: “The remaining question was how the public, which so far had been apathetic and acquiescent, would respond when given the opportunity to speak through the ballot box. It’s often said that electoral politics in Russia is dead. If so, then Sunday’s elections was a defibrillator to the political heart of the polity.”

Wrong. In fact, five million fewer Russians went to the polls in 2011 than had done so four years earlier.  Russians showed themselves to be much less interested in electoral politics in 2011 compared to 2007. It’s simply incredible that Guillory could ignore the voter turnout data, apparently because it didn’t fit his narrative.

Guillory wrote: “United Russia lost its predicted supermajority, barely holding on to a simple one. Medvedev was on the horn trying to get the Communists, Just Russia, the Liberal Democrats – anyone – to agree to a coalition government.  ”

Wrong.

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Russians HEART Zhirinovsky

Vladimir-Zhirinovsky-Quotes-1“То, что женщина — определенный момент есть, конечно, потому что сложно отвечать за деньги огромной страны, здесь больше нужны мужские мозги, даже они не выдерживают”, — сказал Жириновский.

“Regarding women, well, there’s a time and a place for everything of course, but it’s rather dicey to put the country’s entire money supply in the hands of a woman, for something like that you’d really like to the brains of a man,” said Zhirinovsky.

In the most recent parliamentary election in Russia, which occurred in December 2011, the Liberal Democratic Party led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky won the votes of more than 7.5 million Russian citizens.  This amounted to nearly 12% of the almost 65 million votes cast and handed Zhirinovsky control over 56 of the 450 votes to be had in the Russian parliament, called the Duma (which means “thinking place”).

Zhirinovsky collected three times more votes than did Grigori Yavlinsky and his Yabloko Party, which did not earn one single seat the new Duma.

Zhirinovsky’s vote total increased gigantically from the prior election in 2007. Four years earlier, Zhirinovsky had collected only 5.6 million votes and held control over  just 40 seats in the Duma.  His vote tally increased by a whopping 35% and his delegation expanded by a stunning 40% over the next four years.

Zhirinovsky is a madman.  He hates women, and there are only two of them in his party’s entire Duma delegation. As his brazen comments quoted above make clear, his hatred of women trumps his love for Vladimir Putin, and he was prepared to attack Putin for daring to name a woman for the job of Central Bank head. He believes a woman is biologically unqualified to hold such a position.

He routinely makes public statements that clearly show he is completely out of his mind. He once famously demanded that the USA return Alaska to Russia, and he spews out venom designed to provoke international incidents at every opportunity.

So naturally he’s a beloved leader of millions of Russians, for whom he speaks and by whom he is admired.  Those who aren’t attracted by a party run by a proud KGB spy or the Communist Party flock to Zhirinovsky in droves, handing him vast power.