News That Other Presidential Election
posted by October 1 at 10:30 AMon
“Putin is no enemy of free speech,” Ksenia Ponomareva, who worked on his first Presidential campaign, told the St. Petersburg Times. “He simply finds absurd the idea that somebody has the right to criticize him publicly.”—this week’s New Yorker
President Vladimir Putin said Monday he would lead the dominant party’s ticket in December parliamentary elections and suggested he could become prime minister, the strongest indication yet that he will seek to retain power after he steps down as president early next year.—this morning’s AP
When I asked Kasparov if he feared for his life, he nodded gravely and said, “I do. The only thing I can try to do is reduce my risk. I can’t avoid the risk altogether. They watch everything I do in Moscow, or when I travel to places like Murmansk or Voronezh or Vladimir. I don’t eat or drink at places I’m not familiar with. I avoid flying with Aeroflot”—the Russian national airline. “It doesn’t help in the end if they really decide to go after you. But, if they did, it would be really messy. And not just because of the bodyguards. There would be a huge risk for the Kremlin if anything happens to me, God forbid, because the blood would be on Putin’s hands. It’s not that they have an allergy to blood, but it creates a bad image, or makes it worse than it already is.”
It’s a harrowing story, but the most illuminating passage is about chess—the 1984 match when an ironic, pissed-off, 21-year-old Kasparov took on the old Soviet icon Anatoly Karpov. One of them had to win six games for the championship title. They played 48 before officials called the match, saying both players were exhausted. Kasparov was furious; the next year, he beat Karpov like a gong.
So it isn’t too surprising that Kasparov responded to the idea of “prime minister Putin” by declaring his candidacy for president:
The former World Chess Champion, who has been selected by Russian dissidents to run in next March’s presidential poll, admitted he could not win the vote — because the electoral system means he has insufficient support to appear on the ballot — but said he hoped to win attention.