Although there is not much time until the next presidential election in Russia, the local media appears to be ignoring the issue altogether. Occasionally, there is a newspaper headline saying as there was last year prior to Alexander Pushkin's birthday "There are only X days left until Putin's election."
The media are so sure that Vladimir Putin is going to be elected president that they aren't giving readers any other alternative.
Professor Yasen Zasursky, dean of the journalism department at Moscow State University, was asked what he thought about it. "I answered that I was surprised that there is no relevant information on television about the candidates' programs. If you follow the government stations, you would think that there was no election taking place."
"The only surprising thing was that on ORT, the government station reportedly controlled by insider Boris Berezovsky, there were two small reports on a group of young people rallying for the electorate to vote against all.'
"This would be the only way for Putin to lose the election.
"Indeed, on his Saturday evening program, Sergei Dorenko underlined the fact that the protesters were only a marginal group numbering 'not more than 50.' Moreover, the images of them would have led the audience to believe they were only punks and hooligans."
Professor Zasursky described the protesters as a group of young people who can't find representation among the political candidates taking part in the coming election.
"These people cannot propose their own candidate because to do that, you need supporters. For now, they are marginal, but in the future they could create a party and propose their own representative."
This could be an alternative to Putin. But according to Russian law, organizations like these do not have the right to express themselves in presidential elections. "Nobody can judge the candidates for president. Only certain people can join the pre-election campaign, we don't have the right. I think this is not democratic," said Zasursky.
It is quite interesting, though, that Dorenko chose to give an alternative group airtime even if only to criticize them. It seems the presenter is not in fact on Putin's side, otherwise he would not have given the audience even the slightest information about a group opposing the acting president.
"He does not support Putin. He is just fulfilling the tasks of his owner, Berezovsky, who for some reason doesn't want to support the acting president," Zasursky said of Dorenko. "Moskovsky Komsomolets recently wrote an article to this effect that Berezovsky and [UES Chief Anatoly] Chubais are not supporting Putin: They are afraid that he could push them aside."
A vote "against all" is believed by some in the media to be the major fear of those organizing the acting president's election campaign.
"I believe that they are sure of Putin's victory. Try to imagine Putin refusing to run for the election who would you vote for among the remaining candidates? There is only Yavlinsky, but he doesn't have a particularly interesting program," said Zasursky.
"His [Yavlinsky's] program was interesting four years ago, but it is no longer so. Meanwhile, Zyuganov and Putin are playing for the same team. They have a common electorate. I don't know how they reached an understanding about it."
"On one of his Saturday night programs, [Nedelya, on TV Center, presenter Vladislav] Flyarkovsky noted that if Zyuganov proposed that, upon election, he would nominate Putin as prime minister, he would have a better chance of winning. This is, of course, a joke, because [Zyuganov] doesn't want to be elected."
"Recently, a girl came to my house to collect signatures for presidential candidates. She said at one residence she was told that the family would vote for both Putin and Zyuganov! 'They are very close,'" the family said.
"Their [Zyuganov's and Putin's] programs even have positive sides: They are against corruption, the Mafia, but are not suitable for present day Russia. If, in our country today, we have a lot of problems, it doesn't mean that we have to resurrect what we had. We need to go forward with new ideas. Unfortunately we don't have many in Russia now."
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