|Putin likes peace. He also likes atomic bombs and puppies.|
If only the American presidential election could be so simple, eh? Vladimir Putin’s victory in the Russian presidential election surprised the grand sum of nobody and indeed, why should it? Putin’s ascendancy from Prime Minister back to the comfy confines of his beloved presidential office was never in question, thanks in no doubt to the bald-hairy theory.
Yes, forget the fact that the vast bulk of the Russian media are under Putin’s control, forget the blanket coverage Putin’s election campaign and rallies received and also forget all those nasty allegations regarding election fraud. The bald-hairy theory was what won it for dear old Vladimir.
This theory states that for each leader of Russia that has a hairy head, a bald leader will follow him and vice-versa. The theory is yet to be disproven. After the inordinately bald Lenin, came the luscious, combed moptop of Stalin, complete with hairbrush moustache. After horrible Josef came the bald Khrushchev and following him, came the hairy Brezhnev and so on.
This trend has remained unbroken right to this very day and it is the single greatest factor in baldy Putin replacing hairy Medvedev. No sour grapes now Zyuganov, Mironov or Zhironovsky, were one of you lot less follically endowed than dear old Vladimir it could have been you sipping tea and relaxing on a comfy leather sofa in the Kremlin and not Russia’s favourite tiger tamer.
Of course, the truth surrounding Putin’s victory is a lot less jovial and trivial than I have described. His ascension to president was never in question but the election is still shrouded in mystery. Us here in the West have been quite quick to cast aspersions on the character of Vladimir Putin and the validity of his win and this comes as no surprise.
Russia and, more pertinently, Putin intimidate the West. Even though over twenty years have passed since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, an uneasy tension pervades through Russo-Occidental relations.
And it all started so well. In the infant stages of dear old Vladimir’s first term, relations between Russia and the West could not have been better. After 9/11, the affable Vlad publicly backed America’s War on Terror and was the first head of state to ring George W. Bush and offer his condolences for the September 11 attacks.
After this incipient congeniality came a more cold and uneasy relationship. America withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, an agreement formed between the US and the Soviet Union in 1972 to limit the amount of nuclear weapons at the disposal of both countries. This action was not welcomed by Putin and his indirect riposte was to refuse to support America’s invasion of Iraq. Dear old Vladimir has risked the ire of the West again in recent years with frequent indiscretions such as the poisoning of former spy Alexander Litvinenko and the 2008 invasion of Georgia.
So should we all be grasping our shovels and hurriedly constructing our Anderson shelters now that dear old Vladimir has returned to power? Will the 21st century experience a Cold War? Not likely. No matter how strenuous relations between the former Soviet state and the West get, neither side want a repeat of the eerie yet ultimately frivolous Cold War. America have bigger fish to fry anyway what with tensions between Israel and Iran reaching boiling point and a presidential election of their own.
I don’t like dear old Vladimir even if I have blessed him with a funny (well, in my head) nickname. I don’t like America’s government much either. They don’t like each other. Though to be frank, there’s about as much chance as me launching a nuclear strike against America as there is Russia doing so. The West should not worry. Putin is not a threat. Putin faces waves of opposition and protests at home as it is and if revolutionary 2011 taught us anything it is real change comes from within.