“The average length of a good tyranny is a decade and a half, two decades at most. When it’s more than that, it invariably slips into a monstrosity.” So wrote Russian-American émigré, essayist, and poet (and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature) Joseph Brodsky in 1980. With the elections this Sunday in Russia, President Vladimir Putin will extend his 18-year rule by another six — squarely in monstrosity territory. Of course, much of what Brodsky predicted for such monstrous regimes — “the kind of grandeur that manifests itself in waging wars or internal terror, or both” — has already come to pass in Putin’s Russia. Putin’s authoritarianism has been ahead of schedule. Indeed, Putin cemented his rise to power on a mixture of war (in Chechnya) and terror (a series of apartment bombings, possibly orchestrated by Putin himself and his FSB colleagues). His rule has been perpetuated by persistent violence — foreign and domestic — deployed as a political tool. We have witnessed in it the killing of journalists, democrats, and those who have sought to hold the state accountable (Politkovskaya, Estemirova, Klebnikov, Magnitsky, Nemtsov, and many others); we have seen the invasion and occupation of neighboring states and the violent backing of fellow strongmen (in Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria).
And yet, as this primary global antagonist of American interests and values (who earlier this month announced new weapons aimed at the United States) stands for re-election in less than a week, if we look and listen around the U.S., what news coverage is there of this crucial event? Not much. Why? Because “elections” in Russia have become a boring, stage-managed farce where everyone inside and outside of Russia already knows the result.
That doesn’t mean that Putin isn’t working hard these days — in some ways, it is more challenging to pull off a fake election than a real one. The organic features of a genuine election have to be instead constructed and coerced, creating a Potemkin facade for domestic and international consumption.
Full Article: The Banality of Putin’s Potemkin Elections – Foreign Policy.