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“Conversion of Russia” Update:

Russia’s Sham Democracy Breeds Voter Apathy

by Christopher A. Ferrara

Once again, the New York Times provides a window onto the re-Stalinization of Russia by Vladimir (the “practicing Christian”) Putin. In an article on the mayoral election in St. Petersburg (“Russian Voter Disillusionment Seen in St. Petersburg Run-Off”, September 30, 2003), the Times reports an abysmally low voter turnout due to a lack of any real choice in the election. The “front runner” — meaning the only candidate with Kremlin support — could not even win a majority of the votes cast by the mere 29 percent of St. Petersburg residents who turned out to “vote”.

As the Times observes, “Twelve years after the Soviet Union’s collapse most Russians have become strikingly — and some say ominously — disillusioned about democracy’s most basic right. To critics of Mr. Putin and his Kremlin coterie of former security officers, this is proof that Russia’s leaders today are indelibly cast in the Soviet mold and have squashed freedom of speech to such a degree that apathy is the result.” Political journalist Danil A. Kotsyubinsky laments that voter apathy in St. Petersburg is “symptomatic of the crisis of ‘managed democracy’ Putin is trying to implement.”

A Russian businessman, Sergei A. Gorilovsky, complains that decisions affecting St. Petersburg are all made in Moscow by Mr. Putin’s aides — virtually all of them, like Putin, “former” KGB agents. “Practically nothing depends on the people here,” said Gorilovsky. The Times also quotes a local pensioner, Olga I. Trofimova, who says that “even five years ago, we believed in something. Now we believe in nothing.”

It is no wonder Russians are disgusted and disillusioned with rule by the “practicing Christian”, which, despite the trappings of democracy, is at heart nothing but a Brezhnev-style Soviet regime. Indeed, as the Times notes, the Kremlin’s hand-picked incumbent mayor of St. Petersburg, Valentina Matviyenko, has enjoyed the exclusive support of “the national television channels, all controlled by the state [which] lavished attention on her while largely ignoring her opponents.” Opposition candidate Mikhail Amosov complains that “the lack of a free electronic media is the greatest problem in our semidemocratic system.” And, despite a law banning public officials from using their office to influence elections, the “practicing Christian” — who, in true Soviet style, is above the law — lavishly endorsed Matviyenko in a televised appearance.

The Times concludes its piece by quoting Leonid Kesselman, a Russian sociologist who observes that the low turnout in St. Petersburg was “an inevitable result of elections whose outcomes seem preordained by what he called ‘the entire Ministry of Truth.’ He compared it to Soviet ‘elections’ and told an old Soviet joke.” In the joke, Leonid Brezhnev asks a man if he can have the watermelon the man is carrying. The man asks, “Which one?” Brezhnev answers, “How can I choose if you have only one?” “The same way I chose you,” the man replies.

And this, the neo-Catholic establishment assures us, is the conversion of Russia promised by Our Lady of Fatima. One wonders how the people who are promoting this lie can look at themselves in the mirror.