Putin Emerges Triumphant Thanks in No Small Part to Western Demonization
"When a president gets 76% of the vote, he has political capital."
Russia's elections can best be described as a supersized event, spanning eleven time zones across 17 million square kilometers of territory. The outcome has seen Vladimir Putin secure a fourth six-year-term as the Russian president by a historic landslide margin.
The scale of victory marked an increase in Putin's share of the vote from the 2012 election, when he won 64%. This time, the incumbent Russian leader secured more than 76% of the votes - the highest tally in the history of the Russian Federation.
Putin's nearest competitor, millionaire communist Pavel Grudinin, received slightly less than 12%.
The relatively high voter turnout of 68% was also important, as it further reinforced the perceived legitimacy of the Russian state and its leadership.
But one of the more impressive demonstrations of Russian democracy at work was witnessed as far away as Thailand's resort town of Phuket, where hundreds of Russian tourists formed an 800-meter-long line outside Russia's consulate and waited for hours to cast their ballots.
Coupled with the convincing numbers at home, such scenes made it extremely difficult for anyone to claim that Putin's victory was the result of election tempering, propaganda or a rigged system.
Moscow-based political analyst Victor Olevich explains, "When a president gets 76% of the vote, he has political capital."
Putin's accolades are not just well known to Russians, but also to much of the world. Aside from resurrecting the Russian economy, which was on the brink of collapse when he assumed the post of president in 1999, Putin is also credited with a number of critical achievements on the international arena.
"He really helped Russia get back on its feet," said the Executive Intelligence Review's Bill Jones. "I think he has improved the conditions of life in Russia to such an extent that many people including many of the younger people are very happy with where Russia is going."
"On foreign policy, he has played a much more forward-looking role. He has affected a change in the situation in the Middle East where we are looking at the possibility of a peace in Syria," Jones added.
Since the last presidential polls in 2012, Russian voters have been privy to seismic changes within the global order, including Moscow's military intervention in Syria, a western-fuelled conflict along Russia's border with Ukraine, and the subsequent annexation of Crimea.
The last one is especially important, given that the election itself was timed to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the occasion.
Deemed largely as foreign policy successes on the part of the Kremlin, these developments have also provoked unprecedented hostility from the west - the latest saga coming in the form of UK attacks directed at Putin himself over the poisoning of a former Russian spy near London.
But according to political analyst Dmitry Babich, "all of this helped Putin."
"A tweet from a voter says it all," Babich recalled. "He said, ‘I didn't plan to vote; Theresa May forced me'".
The Western Reaction
Although congratulations poured in from Putin's counterparts in Syria, Iran, China and a number of other Asian and Latin American states, the western reaction has been far more muted.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas broke the silence by questioning the fairness of the election and said Russia would remain a ‘difficult partner'.
As expected, the west's focus centered largely on the poisoning of the ex-spy in Britain, Sergey Skripal and his daughter.
While the votes were still being counted in Moscow, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson claimed that the trail of blame for the poisoning "leads inexorably to the Kremlin."
Putin would later dismiss the allegations coming out of London as "nonsense".
Meanwhile, in Britain's Guardian newspaper, coverage on the Russian election featured a cartoon of Putin as a spider sitting atop of the world. Interestingly, the drawing is very similar to a Nazi propaganda poster published in the 1930s, warning of the dangers of Bolshevism.
And as distasteful as some of these portrayals may be, they are by no means exclusive to the Guardian.
Today, Russia and Putin are victims of non-stop demonization in both western political and media circles. To make matters worse, all allegations directed at Russia no longer require any proof, as western ‘democracies' completely abandon all forms of due process.
However, if the intended objective of these measures was to isolate Putin, they appear to have had the opposite affect, shoring up his popularity while serving as yet another example of failing western policies.
The editor-in-chief at the theduran.com, Alexander Mercouris, explains that the west has actually consolidated the Russian people around their president.
"Most Russians see Putin as a strong leader who is in a position to maintain the country's national independence and sovereignty at a time when it is in a state of confrontation with the west," Mercouris said.
Perhaps more importantly, the election outcome has also given Putin the green light to forge ahead with his polices both at home and abroad.
Addressing thousands near the Kremlin on Sunday night, the Russian president said that he saw the result as "recognition for what I did in the past year under very complicated circumstances."
"I see in this trust and hope that we will continue to work as intensely and as responsibly."