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Venezuela and Russia Voting on December 2 – Worlds Apart

By       Message Siv O'Neall     Permalink
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Venezuela and Russia Voting on December 2 – Worlds Apart

Hugo Chávez lost the referendum on constitutional reforms. But is he really the loser? Putin's party, United Russia, won the election. Sure. But at what price?

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Chávez is blacklisted by the western mainstream media, in particular by the U.S., as being anti-democracy, a dictator who just wants power for himself. However, he graciously conceded defeat even before all the votes had been counted, when it became obvious that the U.S.-supported opposition had carried the day. But dictators don't lose elections, do they? So what is the reality behind all this vilifying of President Chávez?

Putin is blacklisted by nobody, but who is the real dictator? The legislative election on December 2 was made into a personal vote for Vladimir Putin. Very consciously, with huge billboards presenting the 'Father of the Nation'. Russians may love him but the world sees the election as having been seriously flawed.

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Background of Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin was a largely unknown KGB man when he became Prime Minister in August 1999, mainly due to support from a clique of oligarchs connected to then-president Boris Yeltsin. The theory was that Putin would continue the support of the huge private wealth which had grown to enormous proportions during Yeltsin and was concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of mob-like plutocrats.

The first Chechen war, during Boris Yeltsin's term as President, had been a disaster for the Russians, with Chechnya emerging from the war virtually independent. Now Putin did everything possible to rekindle this failed war in order to unite the Russian people behind a new presumed threat to the safety of the nation. Of course the oil and natural gas deposits in Chechnya were probably a factor in this savage war, but how much this counted in the leading up to the war has been subject to many different interpretations and it is still not clear to what extent the war was connected to the Chechen national resources.

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What many people may have forgotten by now is the series of huge and very suspicious bombings that rocked Moscow and the country in the late part of 1999. The bombings were attributed to Chechen separatists, which fit Putin like a glove fits the hand. The accusation that Chechen rebels were the perpetrators of those bombings has however always remained very much in doubt, even though the authorities obviously managed to convince the Russian public that they were the victims of terrorist attacks from this rebellious former republic of the Soviet Union.

There are, however, strong indications that the origins of the bombings had more to do with an attempt at bolstering Putin's image, that it was a bold and callous move by the government to unite the people around their leaders in a time of national weakness. The bombings were made to be seen as a terrorist threat against their country.

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Siv O'Neall was born and raised in Sweden where she graduated from Lund University. She has lived in Paris, France and New Rochelle, N.Y. and traveled extensively throughout the U.S, Europe, and other continents, including several trips to (more...)
 

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