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Putin’s victory boosted by Western ostracism: media

March 19, 2018

Russian media on Monday said Vladimir Putin’s growing standoff with the West had boosted the size of his election victory, while liberal journalists voiced fears over his stranglehold on politics.

“An absolute victory and a complete knockout for his opponents,” pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda headlined its story.

The result deals a “crushing blow” to the West, the tabloid added, saying that “the worst nightmare of our Western ‘partners’ has come true.”

“Unprecedented pressure from the outside world on Russia force Russians to close ranks and unite around the authorities,” political analyst Andrei Kolyadin told Vedomosti liberal business daily.

Russians were spurred by issues that have isolated Moscow on the international scene such as the Olympic ban over doping and the poisoning of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain, analysts said.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted political analyst Alexei Mukhin estimating that the fact that Western powers “are ostracising our country” added 5 to 10 percent points to the turnout.

“The foreign policy factor guaranteed a high turnout,” the newspaper wrote.

Media also attributed Putin’s convincing victory to the mass campaign by election officials to rally voters.

Meanwhile Kremlin foe Alexei Navalny’s calls to boycott the vote had the opposite effect — bolstering turnout, some newspapers wrote.

Navalny’s boycott campaign alienated “even protest-minded citizens,” wrote Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily.

The result “pulled the rug from under” chief Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny who battled to expose violations through a massive observer campaign but failed to prove Putin does not enjoy national support, Komsomolskaya Pravda claimed.

Kommersant FM journalist Stanislav Kucher slammed the opposition in an opinion piece on its website, saying their failure to agree among themselves had helped Putin. “In Putin’s place I would now hand them state awards.”

Liberal media such as Vedomosti focused on the “problem of 2024”, when Putin will be constitutionally barred from standing for a third consecutive term, saying: “There is no feeling that another six years will become Putin’s last in power.”

“Ahead is either passing power to a prepared successor or redoing the Constitution to preserve personal power,” it wrote, saying that Putin faces “risks ahead.”

Kucher of Kommersant FM went further, urging Russians to emigrate.

“You were warned that the vertical of power was for real and for a long time,” he said.

“Have you been thinking about emigrating for a long time but didn’t decide to do it, hoping for something unclear? What can I say, this really is the ideal moment. Everything is clear at least for six years ahead.”

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.