As expected, Putin's Party rolls to Victory in Russia

File this one under "Least surprising news of the month."

Vladmir Putin's United Russia party amassed a huge majority in yesterday's parliamentary elections which will allow the former KGB chief to do pretty much whatever he pleases with regards to his own future.

This despite European election monitors - those few that Putin allowed to operate - who said the ballot was unfair. The sky's the limit for Putin now:
The victory paves the way for Putin to remain Russia's de facto leader even after he leaves office next spring.

On Monday, Putin described the weekend's election as a vote of confidence in him. "I headed the United Russia ticket and, of course, it's a sign of public trust," Putin said in televised remarks.

Sunday's vote followed a tense Kremlin campaign that relied on a combination of persuasion and intimidation to ensure victory for the United Russia party and for Putin, who has used a flood of oil revenues to move his country into a more assertive position on the global stage.

Luc van den Brande, who headed the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said that officials had brought the "overwhelming influence of the president's office and the president" to bear on the campaign, and that "administrative resources" had been used to influence the outcome.

Goran Lennmarker, president of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's parliamentary assembly, said it was "not a fair election."

First on the agenda for Putin is probably the elimination or marginalization of the opposition beginning with his fiercest critic, former chess champion Gary Kasparov. But what Putin dearly wants is to be recognized as a world leader with a say in events in the Middle East and Europe.

Given the rising oil wealth of Russia this will probably be achievable as Russia may resume its tradtional obstructionist role in the Middle East while trying to intimidate former Soviet republics into toeing Moscow's line on foreign policy.
File this one under "Least surprising news of the month."

Vladmir Putin's United Russia party amassed a huge majority in yesterday's parliamentary elections which will allow the former KGB chief to do pretty much whatever he pleases with regards to his own future.

This despite European election monitors - those few that Putin allowed to operate - who said the ballot was unfair. The sky's the limit for Putin now:
The victory paves the way for Putin to remain Russia's de facto leader even after he leaves office next spring.

On Monday, Putin described the weekend's election as a vote of confidence in him. "I headed the United Russia ticket and, of course, it's a sign of public trust," Putin said in televised remarks.

Sunday's vote followed a tense Kremlin campaign that relied on a combination of persuasion and intimidation to ensure victory for the United Russia party and for Putin, who has used a flood of oil revenues to move his country into a more assertive position on the global stage.

Luc van den Brande, who headed the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said that officials had brought the "overwhelming influence of the president's office and the president" to bear on the campaign, and that "administrative resources" had been used to influence the outcome.

Goran Lennmarker, president of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's parliamentary assembly, said it was "not a fair election."

First on the agenda for Putin is probably the elimination or marginalization of the opposition beginning with his fiercest critic, former chess champion Gary Kasparov. But what Putin dearly wants is to be recognized as a world leader with a say in events in the Middle East and Europe.

Given the rising oil wealth of Russia this will probably be achievable as Russia may resume its tradtional obstructionist role in the Middle East while trying to intimidate former Soviet republics into toeing Moscow's line on foreign policy.