The good news/bad news joke in Moscow has the Acting President Vladimir Putin receiving the election returns sometime next week. He asks for the bad news first:
“Well, sir, the Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov got 58% of the vote.”
“What’s the good news?” Putin asks.
“Well, you got 83%.
Mr. Putin, chosen for the job by Boris Yeltsin and his circle, will win the presidency by a huge margin Sunday because he turned the smashing of Chechnya into a popular patriotic war; also because the new brokers of private power in Moscow are backing him; and because their media machines have savaged all his opponents and driven the more plausible alternatives out of the race.
So the question this time around is not who’ll win? It’s who is Putin, beyond the terse, apparently unreconstructed mid-level KGB spy, we know from speeches on the rationalizing state power in a market economy.
Russia’s election of the man they call “The Black Box” in this hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)