Prokhorov, President Of Londongrad

Once again, a picture that’s worth a thousand words, courtesy of Alex Kireev: A map of how Russians abroad voted in the 2012 elections (see below).

Quantitatively, they split into three main groupings, each accounting for about a third of the votes from abroad: (1) Residents of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Pridnestrovie; (2) Other republics of the former USSR, or the “Near Abroad”; (3) the “Far Abroad”, which is basically the rest of the world. Each of these have specific electoral patterns.

1) Here support for Putin is overwhelming: 91.1% in Abkhazia, 90.4% in South Ossetia, and 87.2% in Moldova. Though very high, practically North Caucasus-like, I do not consider these figures suspicious. All of these states – most of the Moldova voters are from Pridnestrovie – owe their de facto independence to the Russian Army, and to the Kremlin’s foreign policy. Russian military, security, and diplomatic officials stationed in these areas would also be largely pro-Putin.

2) In the former USSR, Putin too has dominant support among Russians (more so than in Russia itself): 92.6% in Tajikistan, 90.7% in Kyrgyzstan, 88.5% in Armenia, 80.9% in Uzbekistan, 76.1% in Ukraine, 77.5% in Kazakhstan, and 66.4% in Belarus. It is ironic that his lowest score would be in Belarus, ostensibly the post-Soviet country with which Russia is closest integrated: Could it be an indirect protest vote against Lukashenko, or is that Belorussian TV’s propaganda campaign in 2010 against Putin as a thief has taken root? The Baltics follow the same pattern: 89.1% in Latvia, 85.4% in Estonia, and 75.7% in Lithuania. It is perhaps indicative that the more Russians are oppressed in a Baltic country, the greater their support for Putin.

Blue: Putin wins; Darker blue: Putin wins in first round; Darkest blue: Putin wins with more than 75%; Green: Prokhorov wins. [click to enlarge]

3) In the Far Abroad, there is a real contest, but not between Putin and Zyuganov – who is unpopular practically everywhere – but between Putin and Prokhorov. There are a few further subdivisions here.

(A) In countries where the Russian presence is dominated (in relative terms) by diplomatic and/or security staff, Putin is dominant. This describes much of Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.

In the BIC’s countries, where there are also many business-types, there is more of a contest with Prokhorov but Putin still wins: China (VVP 40.7%, MDP 34.3%); Brazil (VVP 45.1%, MDP 28.4%); India (VVP 46.2%, MDP 24.5%). (India is also curious in that Mironov performs very well there, by his standards, getting 16.6%; I wonder if @FarEasterner was one of his voters there?).

In the South-East Asian emerging markets, where the non-official presence is probably dominated by businesspeople, it is a close race between Putin and Prokhorov: Indonesia (VVP 41.3%, MDP 39.4%); Malaysia (VVP 35.2%, MDP 32.6%); Thailand (VVP 38.3%, MDP 39.7%). However, Russians in Singapore almost give Prokhorov a first round victory with 48.8%. In most other emerging markets, however, Putin wins comfortable: 63.6% in Turkey, 55.8% in Argentina, 54.3% in Mexico, 53.5% in Egypt, 51.1% in Venezuela and Colombia, 43.8% in South Korea, 43.1% in South Africa.

Putin is dominant in Orthodox and Russia-friendly Greece (84.1%), Macedonia (81.6%), and Serbia (68.0%), but one of the most popular locations for Russian relocating abroad, Cyprus, gives a lower score, 56.8%.

(C) In the Western countries, Putin is either level-pegging with Prokhorov, as in much of post-socialist East Central Europe, the Med, Scandinavia, and the Germanic lands; or decisively behind him as in the Anglosphere.

In the following Western countries, Putin would have to fight a second round with Prokhorov: Hungary (VVP 49.9%, MDP 27.9%); Poland (VVP 48.5%, MDP 30.2%); Italy (VVP 48.3%, MDP 32.1%), Israel (VVP 48.1%, MDP 38.8%), Finland (VVP 44.0%, MDP 36.2%); Spain (VVP 40.8%, MDP 37.0%); Sweden (VVP 37.0%, MDP 36.5%).

In the Anglosphere, and a few other Western countries, Prokhorov leads Putin: Japan (VVP 38.2%, MDP 36.2%), France (MDP 41.2%, VVP 31.3%), Czech Republic (MDP 43.4%, VVP 36.0%), Australia (MDP 43.5%, VVP 33.1%), Canada (MDP 43.8%, VVP 36.2%), Switzerland (MDP 44.8%, VVP 32.0%), and the Netherlands (MDP 46.4%, VVP 27.8%).

In the two major Anglo-Saxon countries, Prokhorov would win the first round outright: The US (MDP 52.4%, VVP 30.0%), and Great Britain (MDP 58.0%, VVP 28.1%).

Looking at the map, there is a striking correlation – especially for the Far Abroad nations – between the level of Russophobia (especially in the media) and Putin’s result.

In a place like Germany, though the media is highly critical of Putin, coverage is however on the whole far more balanced and sophisticated than elsewhere in the West; that might be why Putin won. The French media is highly anti-Russian – on Runet discussions, the “глюк” is used as a unit of measurement for Russophobia, inspired by André Glucksmann – however, from the comments, my impression is that the French aren’t quite as taken in by the propaganda as the British or Americans. Broadly similar things may be said of Italy.

As for the UK, it hosts people like Zakayev, Berezovsky, and Chichvarkin (him on Putin voters: “Zombies, who wake up after drinking beer and vodka and switch on the first (state-controlled) TV channel. They don’t want to think, they don’t want to work, they don’t want to learn”). It is also the global center of the radical anti-Putin opposition, represented by people like Andrei Sidelnikov, who was along with Berezovsky’s PR man Alex Goldfarb the driving force behind the establishment of the anti-Putin campaign Strategy-31 Abroad. Practically all of its major newspapers without exception take a hysterically anti-Putin tone, and in the case of the Guardian actively censor people who argue otherwise (or who question their censorship for that matter). So no wonder that the UK Russians love the robber baron Prokhorov so much, the one who got a mere 6% in Norilsk, the Russian town where he is the major employer, and whose people presumably know him well – too well, perhaps. One can only hope that Prokhorov will leave for Britain to join his oligarch buddies there, to answer his true calling in life which is to be President of Londongrad.

Needless to say, the US media is also highly Russophobic, though perhaps not quite as vitriolic as the British press (for instance, the New York Times is certainly a lot better in that regard than any major British paper). No surprise then that Putin got the second least amount of votes in the US.

The results at the polling station of the San Francisco consulate (where I happened to vote) were 57.1% for Prokhorov and 26.7% for Putin, the biggest discrepancy in all the Russian polling stations in the US. My experience is that of the people from Berkeley, votes were split evenly between Prokhorov and Zyuganov (what do you expect? It’s a leftist place), with Putin taking up third place. However, in the wider Bay Area, the electorate is dominated by Silicon Valley types, who tend to be people who emigrated from Russia during the Soviet era and who associate it with backwardness, anti-Semitism, etc., and coupled with the libertarian / bourgeois nature of their views, Prokhorov is a perfect fit for them.

In the BIC’s nations, and most of the emerging markets, where the media environment is fairly neutral as far as Russia goes – as opposed to its highly Russophobic nature in the West – Putin ends up winning comfortably, including in countries that everyone accepts to be liberal democracies like India, Brazil, Turkey, etc. In fact they are very close to the results in Russia itself, especially when one adjusts for the types of people who are likely to be abroad (richer, well-educated) to their equivalents in Russia. This is evidence that whatever supposed pro-Putin bias the media may have in Russia (and I would say that on average it is now more negative than positive) it is far, far outweighed by the anti-Putin and Russophobic bias of the Western, and especially Anglo-Saxon, media, as testified to by the fact that Russian voters in the US and the UK would rather vote for a confirmed Yeltsin-era thief and oligarch than Putin.


  1. Moscow Exile says:

    The plot thickens as regards support for Prokhorov in Moskva-na-Temze. In today’s (March 8th 2012) UK Independent, the Russia correspondent Shaun Walker, a person with a similar mission, it seems, as Harding of the UK Guardian, “reports” the opinion that, in view of the Russian President-elect’s recent offer of a government position to Prokhorov, then the oligarch might possibly have been Putin’s stooge all along:

    • They have to keep the conspiracy theory that Khodorkovsky was put in jail because he was a presidential contender alive. Prokhorov’s candidacy proved that Khodorkovsky was not any sort of threat to Putin. I don’t see any difference in charisma or substance between these two robber barons so neither would the Russian electorate. In fact, Prokhorov is cleaner than Khodorkovsky in terms of the trail of bodies behind the latter.

      Basically, the retarded tin foil drivel from the anglophone media is that anyone besides Putin who runs for office in Russia, be it presidential or Duma, is some sort of Putin puppet. They routinely call Putin a “strongman” which means dictator. And supposedly the nutbar fringe who can’t get more than 7% at the ballot box (even this level is because some people think that they are liberals and not neo-liberals) are the “true” opposition. Russia should wake up, the cold war is not over.

      • Nah, the Cold War is over. Russia has long since woken up to that fact. The problem is that the US, UK and to some extent other Western countries have not woken up to that fact. Way back in 2000 when asked about the possibility of Russia joining NATO, Putin responded that he couldn’t see “why not”. And even back in 1991 Yeltsin had supposedly made moves towards Russia joining. Yet the West (especially the US and UK) continue to dream of the Cold War (perhaps because over 40 years worth of Cold War propaganda had finally achieved a brainwashing of the society so that just about everyone continued with a Cold War era mentality). This leads to a problem in which the USA and UK and to a lesser extent the rest of the West is achieving a disconnect not only from Russia, but from the rest of the world as well. Helped in no small part by a lot of the western MSM being co-opted/hijacked by fringe (well formerly fringe) radicalist elements in their societies (just take a look at the MSM now versus in 1980 or even 1990 – political debates have literally become circuses). To me this explains how a guy who could advocate increasing the work week from 40 hours to 60 hours could possibly achieve a majority in some polling stations anywhere on the planet. Or how another guy (Yushchenko) who could promise 5 million jobs in 5 years could be taken seriously as a presidential contender. In a sane media environment these points would be taken up and picked apart through thorough analysis. Instead they are kind of swept aside as inconvenient facts instead of telling indicators as to how capable the people making such promises really are.

        For Prokhorov the craziness of the plan of a 60 hour work week is highlighted by a contrasting proposal I heard being raised on a BBC discussion programme which called for a reduction in the work week and a subsequent hiring of more people. And to back it up, the proposers noted that historically the trend has been for a reduction in the work week. Which on reflection is quite true. People used to work 10-16 hours a day for six days before we gradually got the 8 hour a day/5 days a week standard. What Prokhorov was essentially proposing was a return to the pre-Industrial Revolution and early Industrial Revolution era, even though logically forcing the same set of people to work longer hours doesn’t allow for more people to have gainful employment. It wasn’t mentioned in the BBC discussion but I would imagine that the reduction in the work week is also partially related to the increase in the global population which meant you had more labour available but only a finite amount of time in the day in which to carry out labour (since people need to sleep and usually sleep at night). As many large corporations (especially banks) had been posting mind-boggling profits before the crash (and some even do so during the crash) the logical thing to do would have been to reinvest some of that profit in more productivity and do what Henry Ford did in the early 1900s by giving workers a real incentive to join your firm and work (Ford introduced a 5 day work week for the same amount of pay as the previous 6 day work week, so now you essentially got a pay raise).

        The 5 million jobs in 5 years was of course an unrealistic promise since you would need China levels of growth to begin contemplating even generating that many jobs a year (and China levels of growth would require substantial investment in human capital as demonstrated by AK, so that the people in search of jobs would be in high demand for labour services).

        • Russia has the human capital, but it is more a question of being too developed. Selling a fridge is easy if the buyer doesn’t have one but hard if he already owns one.

          • Oh the 5 million jobs reference wasn’t about Russia. It was about Ukraine – it was one of Yushchenko’s wild electoral promises back in 2004. But what you say about being too developed probably applies to Ukraine as well anyway (to an extent). It certainly is more developed relatively than some other countries with similar human capital scores as indexed by AK, but unlike China which had Maoism to artificially suppress its development in relation to its human capital, Ukraine has no such factor which could reasonably be blamed for it under-performing in relation to its human capital. Thus it is unlikely to have ever achieved the Chinese style growth needed to fuel 1 million jobs a year over 5 years in a country of 40-50 million people.

            • Being part of the small communist part of the world and with it a smaller network effect.

              That is the answer without claiming that communism itself isn’t that effective. And it isn’t

  2. Thanks for this article. Here in Germany most media outlets are not only critical of Putin, but also russophobic. Maybe not as aggressive as in Britain, but the mainstream consent is strongly Anti-Russian. Therefore everybody who tries to ad some balance to the discussion (as Gerhard Schroeder did recently) gets attacked by the ‘cartel of truth’.

  3. yalensis says:

    On Putin’s relatively “low” score in Belarus, I suspect it is NOT driven by anti-Lukashenko sentiment. Perhaps even the opposite. Recall that Putin and Luk never got along, Putin’s government has harmed Belarus by raising gas prices and refusing to subsidize their economy. In return, Lukashenko has acted like a dick and reneged on recognizing South Ossetia/Abkhazia. The two alpha males, Putin and Lukashenko, have butted heads many times. Therefore people in Belarus, even Russian citizens, may identify more with Lukashenko because they live there, and may be more ambivalent towards Putin than people in other post-Soviet republics. Just a theory. It would be interesting to see some polls or questionnaires if there are some.

  4. Alexander Mercouris says:

    I agree with much of what has been written here but I would make one point. This is that the effect of Prokhorov’s candidacy is that the protest movement ended up voting for a candidate (Prokhorov) who has no possibility of ever being elected. If the protest movement had thrown its weight behind Mironov or even (as Udaltsov sought) Zyuganov it might have broken out to the great mass of the Russian people. Instead most of its members ended up voting for someone who because he is a corrupt billionaire and an oligarch the overwhelming majority of the Russian people will never accept.

    One should not I think be too awestruck by the size of Prokhorov’s vote. At the end of the day with all the resources he has behind him and despite the volatile mood in the country caused by the rise of the protest movement he only managed 8%. That is still in single figures and is less than half the vote Zyuganov got. Moreover it seems that Prokhorov’s vote is overwhelmingly concentrated in Moscow and St. Petersburg and to richer Russians who live abroad. It seems that he was successful in winning over some (but by no means all) of the vote that went to Fair Russia in the parliamentary elections and in maximising the liberal vote in Moscow and St. Petersburg and in the west. This is nowhere near enough to mount a remotely credible challenge but for the purpose of mounting such a challenge Prokhorov is exactly the wrong candidate.

  5. Scowspi says:

    “the more Russians are oppressed in a Baltic country, the greater their support for Putin”

    I would caution against reading too much into this. In Estonia for example, only c. 30% of local Russians are citizens of the RF, hence eligible to vote in RF elections (the others are either Estonian citizens or stateless). And of this 30%, only about a quarter of eligible voters bothered to vote.

    Some background:

    • Can they really be stateless though? I would have thought that at worst they would have retained Soviet nationality and citizenship and thus shouldn’t they be able to take out Russian citizenship through some process? Or were the relevant laws changed in that regard?

      • Some of them did in fact take Russian citizenship, some of them got Estonian citizenship, but a sizeable minority are still not citizens of any country (so-called “gray passport holders”).

    • john haskell says:

      Do you think things might get so bad for Russians in the Baltic States that they consider moving back to Russia?

      • Most of those who wanted to move to Russia did so long ago (90s). The remainder have the advantage of EU membership, and overwhelmingly go to EU countries when they decide to move. The last time I looked at stats on this issue (2008 I think it was), the numbers moving to Russia were minuscule, in the hundreds. However, that was before the financial crisis hit Europe; possibly the trend has changed since then.

  6. Alexander Mercouris says:

    Here is an article by Kim Zigfeld alias La Russophobe, which though it contains much I disagree with (obviously!) still does the best demolition job on Navalny I have so far seen.

  7. Regarding French media, Le Monde fits your description perfectly. Its main contributor Marie Jego is extremly anti russian in just every article, and the other occasional writer Piotr Smolar wasn’t better from memory. A few days ago they published a tribune from Khodorkovsky and recently one from Mikhaïl Chichkine, Zurich based writer. May be you saw it :

    “Sur un même territoire coexistent, tout comme il y a cent ans, deux nations, russes l’une et l’autre, et parlant la même langue, mais qui diffèrent radicalement par l’esprit comme par la culture. Une partie du peuple, de loin la plus nombreuse, misérable, avinée, ignorante, à la mentalité encore moyenâgeuse, vit en province. L’autre partie, concentrée dans les deux capitales, est éduquée, aisée, a voyagé dans le monde entier et a de la démocratie et de l’organisation sociale une conception européenne.”
    also he’s lamenting the failure of the Orange revolution, etc..
    I thought it was just a perfect illustration of the “people-hating liberast” you regularly denounce!

    BTW I think the bias of Le Monde is explained by its Atlanticist leaning, in turn explained by its current ownership (while traditionally it used to be leftist). But also because of a kind of small vendetta : Putin once suggested to one of their journalists to come and get circumcized in Russia (in reply to a question about Chechnya).

    • Alexander Mercouris says:

      These ugly, elitist and frankly racist comments about the Russian people from the likes of Chirikova and their western backers are starting to grate. They should remind themselves of the famous quip of Bertold Brecht’s (referencing the East German leadership) about how since the people have failed it has become necessary to get another.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      From one her many venomous Moscow Times articles, people hating “liberast” Yulia Latynina at her best (or worst?) expressing her open contempt for the common folk:

      “Viktor Yanukovych’s victory in Sunday’s presidential election – not unlike the victories of former Chilean President Salvador Allende, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Adolf Hitler – once again raises doubt about the basic premise of democracy: that the people are capable of choosing their own leader. Unfortunately, only wealthy people are truly capable of electing their leaders in a responsible manner.”


      • Thanks for the link. Nice one to use to rub the nose of sanctimonious western know-it-alls into the ground. Yapping about democracy while pushing for fascism!