In case you missed it, there was an excellent piece on the Russian elections at THE DAILY STANDARD today by Reuben Johnson, the thrust of which is that turnout in the Russian election has been wildly inflated by the Kremlin (various wire service reports peg turnout at about 63 percent). Reuben writes:
If there was indeed an overwhelming support for United Russia in the recent election results, then in some abstract sense one could say that the Russian people were getting the government they had voted for. But the evidence thus far shows much of the electorate staying home and the mood of the average voter beyond apathetic. Speaking today with my Russian colleague is a typical example of what one hears about voter turnout in Russia's major cities.
"There are around 300 flats my building, which you have to assume is at least two persons of voting age per flat on average--or at least 600 voters," he told me. "Yet when I voted at 5 PM today only 30 of the people registered in this building--around 5 percent--had actually bothered to vote by this time. There was no line or last-minute, before dinner rush to vote. When I was at the polling station it was almost completely empty."
Now I see this story over at FP Passport:
Authorities in Chechnya-which until recently was in a state of armed rebellion against Russian occupation-is reporting a voter turnout of 99.5 percent(!) in Sunday's Russian parliamentary elections. A full 99.36 percent of the vote went to Vladimir Putin's United Russia party.
Reuben was well ahead of the curve here, so it's certainly worth your time to read what conclusions he draws from all this. But if you want the short version, "United Russia is becoming a modern-day clone of the old Communist Party."