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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcard: From Russia with elections

    The story: In a Q-and-A session last Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated that as prime minister he would continue to wield a large amount of power over Russian politics, and would hope to hold that power for a while. Long-time Putin aide Dmitry Medvedev has all but secured the Russian election, and Putin has announced his intention to remain prime minister for Medvedev’s term.


    The response: I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really yearn for the American golden age, when bomb drills were as common as apple pie. But luckily for those of us with a false sense of nostalgia, we only need to look as far as Russia for a proud reminder of the way things used to be. Let’s play a game: Can you think of any other Russian leaders who made Time magazine’s “”Person of the Year?””

    Vladimir Putin hasn’t rounded people up into gulags or seriously threatened the West with a black metal ballad-worthy nuclear holocaust – but by George, he’s certainly thought of it. And his plan to keep hold of the reigns of Russia by setting up one of his droogs as president is quite horrorshow, if nothing else.

    Of course, you really can’t blame the Russians for respecting a strong, oppressive man with a love for centralized power. If my country had been destroyed in the 13th century by a band of bloodthirsty nomads armed with ponies and toy bows, I’d feel the same way. Love him or hate him, Putin was exactly what Russia needed after the impotent series of vodka-induced flubs which characterized Boris Yeltsin’s administration.

    But don’t forget; in a crazy world where Russians can lay claim to the North Pole and the specter of the Cold War looms larger and larger, the Russians’ gain is everyone else’s loss. There’s still plenty of reason to be worried about the implications of a Putin puppet presidency – something which may just lead to a Putin-controlled Eurasia.

    Let’s look on the bright side: At least Putin has a sense of humor about him. In response to Hillary Clinton’s assertion that Putin has no soul (the irony of this was apparently lost on her), Putin stated that a head of state should at least have a head. Hillary will be feeling the burn from that one for a long time, even if the aforementioned nuclear Armageddon does come around.

    – Taylor Kessinger is a junior majoring in math, philosophy and physics


    The response: Russia has never exactly been known as a haven of democracy, it’s true, and as his recent maneuvering indicates, Putin has little interest in changing that – he’s a former KGB agent, for crying out loud. He has more or less appointed his successor, is no friend of free speech and, during his first stint as prime minister from 1999-2000, waged a fierce war against Chechnya.

    That said, Putin’s reluctance to leave politics is not the worst thing that could happen to Russia. Though he has been by no means an ideal president, Russia has experienced a degree of economic prosperity under his leadership, if Time magazine’s recent person of the year issue is to be believed; and despite being responsible for his fair share of corruption, Putin has also been a surprising proponent of social programs. Authoritarian though he may be, he does still seem to have his country’s best interests somewhere in mind.

    Moreover, although Putin seems to automatically (and often crankily) take the opposite stance of America and the European Union on nearly every issue, he has rarely been hostile about it. Sure, he’ll put missiles in Europe – if and when the U.S. does the same. And who could blame him for that? The Cold War, which lasted more than 40 years, has been over for less than half as long.

    As far as power-hungry autocrats go, Putin ranks pretty low on the evil-o-meter – not everything he’s done or said has been so bad. So, while the upcoming “”elections”” in Russia may not warrant jubilation, nor are they cause for panic.

    – Alyson Hill is a senior majoring in classics, German studies and history

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