Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: What Will Kremlin Do With Win?




There is no particular reason to believe that Unity is "centrist," unless "centrist" is another word for "unknown." And there is no particular reason to believe that the Union of Right Forces will advocate or achieve real "reform."


But what seems clear is that the Kremlin has been dealt a winning hand - or the Kremlin has dealt itself a winning hand, depending onone's point of view. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will be dealing with friends in the Duma. The stock market is buoyant, and the international news wires are upbeat about the defeat of "the Communists" by "centrists" and "reformers."


So what we have here is an opportunity - even if it is based more on perceptions than on reality. Elections, even flawed ones, can provide a momentum and a legitimacy that should be capitalized upon. Putin, Unity and the rightists could serve Russia best by:


-Moving toward a cease-fire in Grozny. It is a myth pushed by the bloodthirstily hysterical that this would somehow "play into the hands of 'terrorists.'" Russia controls much of Chechnya; but Moscow has a well-known history here, and the onus is now on Russia to demonstrate that it can administer at least the peaceful north in a civilized way. So far that has yet to be proved.


-Pushing through at least the most obvious of economic reforms, such as cutting and simplifying taxes. In past, these reforms were purportedly held up by the Communists; it will be interesting to see what the Kremlin will achieve now, with a free hand.


-Tending relations with the West. These are at a low point - largely because of Western carelessness and error. But if the West is applauding "centrists" and "reformers," there is an opportunity here for some coolly handled fence-mending. We don't all have to be "friends," but at bare minimum we do all have a responsibility to seek cordial relations between the world's two great nuclear-armed camps. Why not pass START II now?


We at The Moscow Times have repeatedly noted that we share the view of some European observers that this vote was neither free nor fair; that point having been made, we would move on to ask: What next?


One lesson that could be drawn from the war-time climb of Unity and the rightists is that the secret to the hearts of the people is to sell them a national security state on ORT.


Another lesson could be that the people are yearning for public order, for real economic reform and for new faces.


Which lesson will the Kremlin draw? Which will it act upon?