Putin's closest challenger, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, got slightly more than 17%, and the other three candidates -- including Mikhail Prokhorov, the owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team -- were in the single digits.
The only surprise was Putin's tearful acceptance of the "people's trust". However, there were some irregularities, which the foreign and internal observers blasted denying Putin's resounding victory the cleanliness it needed to ensure stability.
|Putin shed a tear during his victory celebration.|
As scheduled, on Monday after the elections the opposition held it's protest in the Pushkin square. About 20 thousand people attended the meeting, which commenced at 7pm; they came after work, to stand in the darkness and cold. The opposition leaders have vowed to continue protests alleging widespread irregularities in the voting, but there was a palpable resignation of the redundancy of their demands. The opposition already declared the Duma elections last fall to be illegitimate, and now they transition smoothly into disputing the latest election. They can even reuse their signs demanding fair elections. But, that also makes these signs and slogans seem trite.
|Opposition protest in the Pushkin square, March 5th.|
The show of democracy is over, challenges to the legitimacy of Vladimir Putin's victory in the presidential election will not be tolerated.
|Sign reads: "Moscow doesn't believe in tears."|
The truth is that Putin has outmaneuvered his Russian opposition. Despite the fraud, the fractured opposition has received a clear drubbing at the polls. In the national election liberal leaders are struggling to break double digits. The opposition's hopes that in a few months it could seriously challenge the Putin's machine was shown to be wishful thinking.
The cause of throwing Putin out of power seems lost. In the midst of general ennui and resignation there is no source of motivation required to wage a persistent battle against a strategist politician like Putin.