Was It Rigged?

Another thing that bothers me in the press:

The former C.I.A. director John Brennan pulled no punches on Wednesday when he was asked why President Trump had congratulated his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for his victory in a rigged election, even after Mr. Trump’s national security staff warned him not to.

OK, who said it was a rigged election and on what basis? I have read a mountain of posts and articles by anti-Putin activists who worked as independent observers at the polls. They all agree that, painful as this is to recognize, Russians massively voted for Putin because they like and support him. The attempt to lure people to the polls with food is pathetic but it’s about trying to overcome the citizens’ inertia and lack of interest in voting.

There was large-scale rigging in the elections to the Russian parliament back in 2011. There was massive violence and repression against protesters between December of 2011, when the Duma elections were held, and May of 2012, after the presidential election. Since then, everything changed, and there have been no protests, no rigging, no violence to speak of. The reason is that Putin has done a bunch of things since then to get voters to like and support him.

I want to remind everybody that back in 2011-12, the US did absolutely nothing whatsoever to address the very real rigging and state violence in Russia. Which is OK because it’s not their place to interfere and that would have made everything worse. But it’s quite bizarre to bleat about the lack of US reaction to the fact that today Russians support their Putin and want him to continue as their president.

And by the way, I remember that Obama had no problem with congratulating Putin back in 2012 when peaceful protesters were being brutalized in the streets and videos of shameless and open rigging of the elections were abundant.

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