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Tuesday, 28 March, 2000, 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
Press post-mortem on Russian poll
Izvestiya  newspaper
A woman kisses a newspaper picture of Mr Putin
Russia's papers, secure in the knowledge that Vladimir Putin will definitely be the country's next president, devote much space to Sunday's election and its aftermath.

The leading Izvestiya daily carries an interview with presidential chief-of-staff Aleksandr Voloshin, who is asked whether Mr Putin's preliminary result of 52.64% of the poll is "a lot or a little".


Mr Yavlinskiy
Mr Yavlinskiy: A clear-cut policy?
"The main thing is that it means victory," Mr Voloshin says, referring to the 50% threshold without which the poll would have gone to a second round.

"Of course, it would have been worse if Putin had got 50% plus one vote. Such a result would have been on a knife's edge. Whereas the result which was achieved gives a certain basis for stability," Mr Voloshin says.

Asked why many continue to complain of the vagueness and opaqueness of Mr Putin's programme, he retorts: "Well, try comparing him with his two main rivals, Zyuganov and Yavlinskiy. Do they have clear cut policies, would you say?"

No politician, on coming to power, can offer 100-per-cent clarity concerning future actions, he says.

"Sometimes, depending on the situation, you have to do what you hadn't even considered the day before. But I think that, with the arrival of Putin, we shall get more definite actions than in the case of either of his main rivals," Mr Voloshin said.

"Clearly, the democratic path of development will be continued, there will be a market economy, the market reforms will go on, although at the same time these will proceed with the emphasis on solving social problems, without shock therapy."

The conservative Trud reminds us that Mr Putin's victory was something of a foregone conclusion.

His was an electoral success predicted as never before, even the victory in the first round was forecast by most analysts.

'Boring elections'

"So let us now ask which of the prognoses were not fulfilled, whose hopes did not come true, whose expectations of that electoral night were dissolved in the first rays of the early-morning sun?" the paper says.

First and foremost, contrary to widespread fears, voter apathy did not disrupt the poll.

"Indeed it would appear that the mass electorate fully understood the dangers that would follow from a low turnout or from voting against all the candidates," the paper says.

Either of these factors could have lead to a costly second round and a delay in getting the country back on track.

Another prediction which failed to materialise was actually wishful thinking by supporters of liberal politician Grigoriy Yavlinskiy, who finished third.

Contrary to their hopes, Mr Yavlinskiy was so far behind, that he was never in a position to beat communist Gennadiy Zyuganov for second place, let alone challenge Mr Putin in a second round.

A further factor - this time a fear - which proved unfounded in the event was the absence of any notable "terrorist acts" in Chechnya.

Unless one counts a car bomb in the neighbouring republic of Dagestan, "one could say that on the whole the elections were peaceful, even a little boring".

The government Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily splashes Mr Putin's presidential election victory across its front page.

The only real comment, however, is contained in two lines printed at the very top, above the paper's logo: "We have elected VV Putin to be the new president of Russia. Justify our hopes, Mr President!"

Otherwise, the paper is content to let the facts speak for themselves.

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Russia's vote for President

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See also:

27 Mar 00 | Europe
What now for Chechnya?
09 Mar 00 | Media reports
Putin in his own words
27 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Blair congratulates Putin
08 Mar 00 | Europe
Why is Putin popular?
29 Oct 99 | Europe
Analysis: Putin's war
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