The World’s Sleaziest Magazine On Putin’s Election Victory

Yes, this WAS the cover to one Economist issue.

It’s all so predictable. In its main piece on the elections, The Economist wrote:

And by some estimates vote-rigging added at least ten percentage points to Mr Putin’s tally. The main victim was Mikhail Prokhorov, a business tycoon and the only fresh face in the election. Officially he got 8%. His real vote was probably nearly twice that, says the League of Voters, a group set up by civil activists after a rigged parliamentary election in December.

Note that the “at least” (my emphasis) part is supposed to give the impression that Putin’s result may well have been less than the 50% needed to avoid a second round, thus making him illegitimate.

They totally glide over the inconvenient fact that the League of Voters observers were concentrated in Moscow, where the results are naturally lowest. Even Dmitry Oreshkin, the head of the project, is forced to admit this even if he does do a lot of weaseling about in the process: “Most likely, our sample isn’t entirely adequate.” As I showed in this post this is a detail that CARDINALLY changes the picture.

Furthermore, note two more brazen lies. First, the Economist asserts, “middle-class Muscovites… mostly voted against Mr Putin.” No, they didn’t; even in the richest neighborhoods Putin got 10% points more than their beloved Prokhorov.

Second, they make out that Putin is “not recognised as a legitimate president by a large minority of Russians and by a majority in Moscow.” Note their unstated (but self-evident) assumption that Russians who didn’t vote for Putin are so partisan and contemptuous of the democratic process that they would all refuse to accept the majority’s choice. Perhaps this describes some of The Economist’s idols like Navalny or  Yulia “Pinochet” Latynina or Chirikova (We must dissolve the Russian people and elect another!” – Alex Mercouris, by way of Bertolt Brecht) but I for one think that far from all Russians who didn’t vote for Putin hate democracy.

Needless to say, for every straight out lie and misrepresentation like the above there are about ten different smears and aspersions. But what else can one expect of The World’s Sleaziest Magazine?


  1. Alexander Mercouris says:

    What is most incredible about this is that the Economist is making claims on behalf of Prokhorov that he is not making himself. So far as I am aware Prokhorov has not claimed that he won double the vote that the official results give him. In fact he seems to have had a perfectly civil meeting with Putin after the vote.

    • JustWatching43 says:

      Prokhorov is a rising star in the same party? Putin will have him in office next election….as long as Prokhorov plays his cards right.

      • According to Prokhorov himself, he is not interested in a post in Putin’s government.

        Even though I’m not his biggest fan (LOL), I have to defend him on this score. Why do so many insist on speaking for him?

        • JustWatching43 says:

          How come he ran this election then? If Putin wants him to run next election…I gotta feeling he wont say no..But your right…no one can speak for him….its all speculation.

  2. Plus:

    “for much of the past week Moscow felt like an occupied city” – sure, for three days, the very heart of Moscow was thoroughly militarized. But away from the Kremlin, Manezh (and Pushkin Square), Moscow was quiet, frankly pretty normal.

    “some 100,000 grim-looking people who had been brought to Manezh Square, beneath the Kremlin walls, to celebrate Mr Putin’s victory” – they seemed no more grim than any other crowd; if anything, the critique ought to be that many seemed to be there just to party rather then to hear Putin.

    “As Russian observers noted, all plausible opposition candidates were barred in advance,” – yes, there has been a long-term campaign to ensure no meaningful opposition emerges, but who is the reference to barring “all plausible opposition candidates” about? That world-bestriding colossus and beloved son of the Russian working class Grigori Yavlinsky or “safety candidate” Dmitry Mezentsev?

    “But the euphoria of earlier protests had given way to gloom and desperation.” Eh. OK, less of a carnival atmosphere than people who attended the earlier protests have described, but I didn’t feel it seemed anything near as funereal as this applies — and there were still some silly placards and the like.

  3. donnyess says:

    Talent borrows, genius steals, Putin controls the oil and gas, Yukos is dead, England pays.

  4. Looks like the western media thinks they can wind the current cold war against Russia like the last one. Oh, I forgot, they didn’t win the last one either. Morons.

  5. AK, just as I said from before at least some in the western MSM would begin to imply that Prokhorov won or at least that he was the strongest challenger of Putin and should have faced him off in a second round. Their only problem is that Prokhorov himself isn’t saying this and he did so poorly outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg that in essence they are even forced to acknowledge that Putin did win and is legitimate (note they say that Putin “not recognised as a legitimate president by a large minority of Russians and by a majority in Moscow” and thereby implicitly acknowledge that Putin is recognized as a legitimate President by the majority of Russians (with Moscow being of little consequence since the city contains 8% of Russia’s population and so even if 99% of Muscovites didn’t vote for Putin then it would only amount to 7.9% of the total vote).

    What I find most disturbing about the Economist article’s implication that the “wrong person” is not “legitimate” simply because a “large minority” of the total population and a “large majority” of the capital city which contains only 8% of the total population did not vote for him is that it is essentially an argument for the system of minority rule as happened in South Africa under apartheid or under Liberia with Americo-Liberian domination from it’s founding in the 1800s until 1986 when Samuel Doe became the first indigenous (non Americo-Liberian) head of state for that unfortunate country. Replace “Putin” with “Mandela” or “Samuel Doe/Ellen Johnson Sirleaf” and replace “Moscow” with “Pretoria” or “Monrovia” and what the Economist is essentially saying becomes crystal clear.

    Basically they must be arguing for minority rule by the “right” persons, or else they are saying that “legitimacy” requires 100% support from the population (which is generally only achieved in truly rigged elections). In neither case can we say that real democracy is present.

    Sadly it seems that in the West, people are forgetting that democracy is more than just elections and having your favoured candidate win (elections in which your favoured candidate wins used to occur in the Soviet Union too and still occurs in China and Cuba to the best of my knowledge). It is also about accepting the will of the majority provided the rights of the minority (and all) are protected and that everyone can participate in the democratic process.

    • Well yes, it’s not as if The Economist pays more than lip services to such things as democracy.

      But what’s even more important is that while 40% of Russians may not have voted for Putin, the share of them – one expects and hopes – who regard him as actually illegitimate is far lower, at maybe 5% of the population. Because even if you’d prefer another President, most of your fellow citizens do not.

      There can be only two reasons for believing in his illegitimacy. Either you genuinely, fully believe that Putin failed to break the 50% barrier and would have lost in the second round; or you despise the entire premise of democracy.

      The Economist cloaks itself in the mantle of the former, but it’s clear from the language it uses that its real reason is the latter. It hates democracy, at least insofar as it goes against Western interests.

      • Alexander Mercouris says:

        When I was a student in the late 1970s we used to joke that the Economist supports every dictatorship except the Russian.

  6. yalensis says:

    West does not recognize any national leader as legitimate unless that person is a Western marionette. They really don’t care if that person (=the right person) came to power via election, coup, or revolution.

    Except for Merkel, Western leaders did note even congratulate Putin on his victory until several days later, at which point they had no choice except to offer lukwarm greetings. The first, and best congratulation, came from China. The Chinese leaders really like Putin. Also heartfeld congrats from Venezuela and Syria. Europe and America – not so much.

    • I agree Yalensis,

      I wonder if Americans will ever wake up and stop believing the crap that’s printed in their media – especially on leaders the west are known to dislike. The demonization of Putin has been round the clock since last December – I mean outright relentless. The recently held elections in Yemen (with one man on the ballot!) and Thailand were a complete farce, yet we had the US State Department hailing both of these phony elections as triumphs for democracy. The past elections in Venezuela for example, have been among the most transparent and open in the Western Hemisphere, yet even with the Carter Center down there monitoring elections, we still get this “fraud” narrative thrown around in our media. Apparently, their propaganda playbook stipulates that only pro-western stooges can honestly win elections, if they’re not pro-western, then the election was “rigged.” To me, this simply shows just how little respect the press and government have for the intelligence of the average American.

      • I forgot to add: I’m willing to bet that the reason it took western leaders so long to congratulate Putin, is that they were really hoping that all of their propaganda about a “stolen election” would bring millions of Russians into the streets demanding “regime change” which would then be followed by the usual chorus of western leaders demanding that he step down. When it became obvious that this was just another western fantasy, only then did they decided to make the call to Putin. I think Putin’s triumph in the election is probably being viewed as a defeat for the west, because they know they’ve been completely rebuked by the Russian public. The NED and other western NGO’s will probably have a harder road ahead in Russia from here on out, as the Russian government may pass tougher laws making it more difficult for them to directly interfere in the political system.

  7. Alexander Mercouris says:

    Conclusive evidence for Anatoly’s point that most Russians have no wish to overturn the results of a democratic election is provided by the much lower attendance at opposition rallies on Monday and today.

    • What’s the attendance at today’s rallies?

      • Alexander Mercouris says:

        The police are saying 10,000. The BBC puts it at “up to 20,000”. The protesters are claiming between 25-30,000. Everybody agrees that it is well below the numbers that turned up to the previous rallies and nowhere near the the 50,000 that was anticipated.

        I have commented on Mark Chapman’s blog that on the basis of the pictures I have seen (which I accept may not be representative) the protest looks much more subdued and somber as well as much smaller than the previous protests and that the age of the protesters looks a lot older than at the previous protests. Moscow Exile has also said that he too noticed that the protesters looked older.

        • When I saw the photos like this…

          …I too thought attendance had plummeted. As the police were claiming 8000, and the protesters 30,000, and since the Law of Averages had worked so well in the past, I assumed real attendance was at around 15,000.

          However, the geodesic engineer Nikolai Pomeshchenko, whose estimates we have no reason to distrust (previous estimates: Bolotnaya I – 60k; Sakharov – 56k+; Bolotnaya 2 – 62k; Poklonnaya (pro-Putin) – 80k – versus typical liberal ones of 120,000-150,000 and police estimates of 20,000-30,000) gave a much higher than consensus estimate of 26,000, which is within the range of the liberals’ estimate of 25,000-30,000.

          Well, be that as it may, it’s still less than 50% of the size of the previous rallies. Momentum is lost. The Snow Revolution is melted by the Russian Spring (and in the way the liberals hoped for).

          • Alexander Mercouris says:

            This is the essential point. Putting aside the debate about numbers the protest organisers needed to show a big turnout after Monday night’s disappointment. One must assume that they pulled out all the stops to bring out as many of their supporters as possible. There is film showing coaches that must mean that people were bused in (perfectly legitimate by the way). Nonetheless even on the most optimistic numbers they came nowhere near hitting their target of 50,000. Momentum has gone and the protest movement for the moment at least is ended.

            • Looks like most Russians are not idiots. There was something to demonstrate against after the Duma elections. But not about the presidential election. Let’s be insanely generous to these foreign-sponsored agitators and assume that Putin got 45% of the vote in the first round. So he would have been *guaranteed* to win in the second round since his closet rival in this skewed SMS poll got not more than 21%. The Zyuganov, Mironov and Zhirinovsky supporters would not surge en mass to vote for Prokhorov. Putin would have gotten another 15% at least.

              It’s quite obscene to see this endless nitpicking in the west about Russia’s electoral standards. Even with 5% fraud there is no significant change in the outcome due to proportional representation. But in the case of Harper’s election during Canada’s last federal poll it looks like dirty tricks (a type of fraud) gave him a majority government. Many tight ridings races were affected by diversion of voters to wrong ballot station locations, etc. First past the post electoral systems are much more prone to gerrymandering and dirty tricks.

  8. Alexander Mercouris says:

    The Guardian has now also settled on the figure of 20,000 based on what it says are independent witnesses. I notice by the way that its report on the protest is not by one of its usual stable of reporters such Tom Parfitt or Miriam Elder. The Independent quoting Associated Press puts the figure at “up to 10,000”, which would be less than that claimed by the police.

    • Alexander Mercouris says:

      Tom Parfitt has in fact turned up at the Daily Telegraph where the figure he gives for the rally is 15-20,000. In the light of this it seems to me that 20,000 is the absolute upper limit of the number of people who can have turned up.

      Incidentally Tom Parfitt says that several of the speakers were young people who have been elected as councillors in the local elections that happened in Moscow at the same time as the Presidential elections. I understand that most of these councillors stood as independents. According to an editorial in today’s Financial Times (which as always is strongly sympathetic to the opposition) these independent councillors account for no more than 4% of the total, which does not sound very impressive.

  9. Anatoly, not that I want to give you my dirty work, but what about doing something on Clover in the “World’s sleaziest Newspaper”

  10. If you were ready for yet another metric which purports to predict which way the electorate will vote, your wait is over. By way of Ice Station Zebra (French);

    “Vladimir Putin: the Candidate of the Little People”

    Allow me to translate.

    “Prokhorov, the candidate of the “Fat Cats” (this is not French, but Italian, and translates literally to “Fat People”)!! That is what results from this analysis based on the breakdown of results from Moscow’s 125 electoral districts. The vote for Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Prokhorov in Moscow correlates to the price per square meter of housing! The “elasticity” of this phenomenon was most sensitive to (in favour of) Mikhail Prokhorov; a given variation in price per square meter inspired a stronger variation in the vote in his favour! This rigorous analysis, based on official results, demonstrates the “normality” of the Moscow vote and discredits theories of fraud…

    The Great White Circle of 26 February 2012 is seen in all its significance (see map). The Muscovite Bohemian-Bourgoisie marks what it considers its “preset” territory.”

    This is sourced from “the Russian Blogosphere”, and features a number of interesting demographic maps.

    So the rich-guy Muscovites went with the rich guy. Hey, they’re just like westerners! Who knew??

    Except somewhere, Stanislav Belkovsky is weeping into his pillow, because this blows a Kamaz-size hole in his contention that Vladimir Putin is secretly among the world’s top 5 billionaires. Assuming the real heavyweights swim in a sea in which they recognize each other by unremarked countersign, they would have recognized Vladimir Putin as one of their own as surely as if by the aroma of spilt Courvoisier.

    • This Counterpunch article by Israel Shamir also identifies Moscow as more pro-“liberal” and that the social and economic disparity between the cities and the rest of Russia is growing into a problem that Putin as President will have to deal with:

      Interesting that the people who voted against Putin were the ones who most benefitted from past policies begun when he was President previously.

  11. Alexander Mercouris says:

    Capitulation! Guardian hoists the White Flag. Snowflake Revolution officially over:

    PS: Note the grudging (and belated) admission that the protest movement was restricted to Moscow. Notice also the admission that Putin won more than 50% everywhere save in Moscow. Indeed the editorial all but says that the 63% he was awarded was what he got. Even I do not say that.

  12. In my opinion – just because Putin would win without all that vote-rigging, it might actually harm him more than benefit.
    Because now people doubt. And doubts do not need figures.

    • I don’t think so.

      Most of the opposition figures who harbor doubts only do so publicly, but privately know otherwise – this goes for their western backers as well. Some have even started to recant (The UK Guardian for one) and admit that Putin won. The vast majority of Russians who voted for Putin are happy with the results, and as long as they’re happy, I don’t think any harm should be expected in regards to Putin’s legitimacy.

  13. Apparently the leader of the British equivalent of Zhirinovsky’s party (sorta) thinks that Russia is more democratic than the UK:

  14. AK, your idea of killer AI has apparently been picked up by another Russian in the U.S.:

    SkyNet here we come…armies of AI-driven drones and killer tanks, plus production lines for them. What could possibly go wrong?