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March 5, 2012

Putin beats the spread

Global Public Square [CNN.com]
by Matthew Rojansky

Our condolences to "opposition" "candidate" and New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who finished a distant third to Vladimir Putin in yesterday's Russian Presidential election with just 7.84% of the vote (even the Nets have a better winning percentage).

But is Proky really a loser?

Waiting for the returns from Sunday’s Russian presidential elections was a bit like watching a lopsided football game at a Las Vegas sports bar - everyone knew who was favored to win, but what really mattered was the spread.

On the gridiron of Russian presidential politics, Vladimir Putin was the heavy favorite and he did not disappoint. Despite months of anti-regime protests and a relatively transparent voting process, Putin appears to have won well above 60% of the vote, with a respectable turnout of just over 56%. This means that Putin will not only return to the Kremlin in May, but will claim a mandate to govern based on the will of the Russian people. As in sports betting, this outcome promises a big payoff for some, and a long, cold winter for others.

So who were the winners and losers after Sunday’s blowout?

The Winners:

The Oligarchs: Despite the poor showing by “independent” presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs, he and his neighbors on the Forbes list of Russian billionaires stand to profit handsomely under a new Putin presidency. Putin makes no secret of his disgust for the crooked 1990’s privatization schemes that made Prokhorov and others rich, yet he has no intention of undoing the results. Putin’s message to the oligarchs is simple: make your money but stay out of politics. And they have done so, with the exceptions of Prokhorov, who is suspected to have run on Putin’s orders, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky who lost his company and is rotting in jail. The reward for the oligarchs’ obedience? Putin plans a new round of privatization worth some $50 billion over the next five years.


Posted by eric at March 5, 2012 9:46 AM