United Russia wins regional elections

No surprises here in Moscow. United Russia won a landslide victory in just counted elections in Moscow and dozens of other regions. In what he had called “new democratic times,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev seemed pleased and lost no time in letting regional governments know that United Russia would be playing an even greater role in both the legislative and executive branches of regional governments.

“United Russia’s victory in the regions proves its authority and right to form bodies of the executive branch in the regions,” Medvedev said at a meeting with senior United Russia officials.

United Russia’s stunning victory disappointed those who had hoped that Medvedev’s announcement in August that “new democratic times are beginning” would lead to some political competition. Medvedev also warned United Russia over the summer that its monopoly on power would not last forever.

But United Russia managed to not only keep its dominant position in the Moscow City Duma but expand it, according to the Central Elections Commission. The party, whose list was headed by Mayor Yury Luzhkov, got 66 percent of the vote, giving it 32 seats in the City Duma. The other three seats will go to the Communist Party, which garnered 13 percent and had four seats in the last Duma. The other four parties in the race, including Yabloko, which had two seats in the last Duma, failed to clear the 7 percent threshold.

Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov stated his regret that the Moscow City Duma, one of the most powerful in the country, would be represented by only two parties. 

Luzhkov has been pressured by the Kremlin to step aside as mayor and take a seat in the Duma instead. Refusing to be brushed aside, the mayor indicated that he had no plans to leave office until he decided it was time, saying “The time hasn’t come yet. When it comes, I will announce it myself without any reminders and questions from those who would like to see a less independent Moscow.”

Rival political party Yabloko reported numerous violations and said it would challenge the results.

“There aren’t any real election results for us to talk about,” said Lilia Shibanova, director of the independent election-monitoring group Golos, which also reported serious violations.

Putin loses government Limo service!

From time to time I’m asked if there is such as thing as taxi service in the FSU?

Well of course. But not as organized nor as convenient. The airports and large hotels have regular service but these are usually exceptionally expensive.

How do you catch a ride?

Well, if you don’t take the metro or bus, or trolley or train, there is always your thumb. Stick your hand and just wave. Some driver will get the idea and pull over so be ready to explain where you’re going.

Be sure to negotiate a price before accepting the ride and pay only upon arrival and only after all your things have been removed from the car. That one ole Mendeleyev had to learn by experience and experience can be a very expensive teacher.

NEWS FLASH…..Russian Prime Minister Vladimir “I’m shooting Lions while bare chested” Putin has lost his government limo! In the widening dispute as he and President Dmitry Medvedev jockey for position to decide who will run for President in 2012, PUTIN HAS LOST HIS LIMO PRIVILEGES!

God’s truth. I have it right here, on video. At night when finished working he has to flag down a ride just like any other working stiff. Just watch:

Watch how he does it and try it yourself. I don’t think you’ll get the blue light treatment however. That is reserved for the big shots.

Clinton urges Russia’s youth to open politics

Hillary Clinton addresses MGU (Moscow State University) students.
Hillary Clinton addresses MGU (Moscow State University) students.

(From the Moscow Times)

KAZAN — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday challenged Russians to open up their political system and embrace diversity and dissent, saying Cold War-era thinking would limit their prosperity in the 21st century.

Clinton spoke to Moscow State University students and then traveled east to Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan. The informal meetings, which wrapped up a five-day tour of Europe, were aimed at helping redefine U.S.-Russia relations.

Clinton stressed to the students that Russia’s prosperity was dependent on its willingness to cultivate core freedoms, including the freedom to participate in the political process.

“Citizens must be empowered to help formulate the laws under which they live,” she told about 2,000 students at the university. “They need to know that their investments of time, money and intellectual property will be safeguarded by the institutions of government.”

Her message appeared aimed in part at countering the fears of Russia’s beleaguered liberal democrats that the United States would no longer seek to hold the Kremlin accountable for violations of democratic norms and human rights in exchange for Russia’s cooperation on Iran and Afghanistan.

“In an innovative society, people must be free to take unpopular positions, disagree with conventional wisdom, know they are safe to challenge abuses of authority,” Clinton said.

“That’s why attacks on journalists and human rights defenders here in Russia is such a great concern: because it is a threat to progress,” she said, standing in front of a monumental Soviet mosaic topped by a red hammer and sickle, the showcase of the university auditorium.

Clinton told the students that one of the books that most affected her life was “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky, in particular the parable of the Grand Inquisitor, which she saw as “an object lesson against servitude.”

“I believe one of the greatest responsibilities we have as human beings is to open ourselves up to the possibility that we could be wrong,” she said. “One of the greatest threats we face is from people who believe they are absolutely, certainly right about everything and they have the only truth and it was passed onto them by God.”

Secretary Clinton’s unveiling of Walt Whitman statue on Moscow campus.
Secretary Clinton’s unveiling of Walt Whitman statue on Moscow campus.

 

Secretary Clinton’s two day Russian tour began with a speech at Moscow State University on human rights, and included the unveiling of a Walt Whitman statue on campus.

According to the Madame Secretary, “Just as Pushkin and Whitman reset poetry we are resetting our relations for the 21st century.”