Protecting Holy Russia from the invaders

Vladimir Putin
Photo-illustration; Painting of Peter the Great: Getty; Putin: Sergei Guneyev / RIA-Novosti for TIME
Political campaigning  at its best is pure democracy and pure theater; the voters get to see, hear and question would be office-holders in person.  One of my favorite images of presidential campaigning comes from the days of national railroad tours.  In the image in my mind, the president is standing on the landing of last car on the train, speaking to the hastily gathered voters, they are waving banners, cheering and shouting questions to the president.  He stands there unguarded, without a cue card and without makeup; just the man alone and yet he is totally at easy with the people of the nation.  Oh course, he still managed to escape into sound bites, before there was such a thing, time was limited and the speech was intended to say everything he meant to say.  The questions and answers were shouted back and forth, the president as often as not used the opportunity to show his wit and disarm his critics.  Every citizen could hope for a chance of seeing the president up close, hearing his voice and judging for himself the man’s integrity.

Campaigning at its worse is something else again entirely.  We are so immersed in our own process that we do not have much time or media space to watch any other campaigning in the world.  There are, however, other campaigns in process.  It is just a short time before voting is scheduled to begin in Syria and Assad seems to be in the full swing of his campaign, determined to kill as many of those who might vote against him as possible.  He, of course, says he is protecting the people from terrorists, outside interference and greedy opportunist trying to destroy Syria.

Nicholas Sarkozy is campaigning, like Assad he is stressing the importance of his leadership in protecting France from the dangers of the world today, the European economy and at least by inference from his international diplomacy, promising to return France to the glory it knew a century or two ago.  His most prominent endorsement came from Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, she is appearing with Sarkozy on the campaign trail.  However, from my point of view the most entertaining campaigner is Vladimir Putin, who is seeking the presidency for the third time, after taking a four year break from the office and serving as the prime minister.

Today, in Russia there was a mass rally for Putin, put on and sponsored by Putin and his party.  And although he is not noted for public speaking, Putin put in an appearance and made a brief speech.  Like other candidates in other countries, Putin is promising to protect Russia and Russians.  But from what?  Well, it seems he was not specific, merely saying there are outside forces trying to destroy Russia and he, Vladimir Putin was sworn to protect the mother land.  “Do you love Russia?” – he called out to the crowd several times, the crowd is said to be have been in the tens of thousands – one estimate put it at 120,000 – and as one they answered, “Yes!” “Yes!” each time he asked the question the crowd shouted back the answer – heart warming isn’t it?

Putin saved the best for last, he only spoke for seven minutes, recalling Russia’s noble history and the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in September of 1812.  Napoleon had come to Russia with 500,000 men in June, but after the Battle of Borodino in September his army was very weakened, three months later he fled Russia with only 25,000 men.  The bodies of the rest were strewn across the landscape of Russia for many, many miles.   In 2012, two hundred years later, there is no clear enemy, no French general marching across the country, except it appears in the mind of the prime minister, he sees that threatening army and promises to defeat it – because Putin, too, loves Russia. I apologize for the picture, it is the wrong emperor/tsar, to be politically correct, I should have found a picture of Putin as Alexander the First, who defeated Napoleon in 1812 and later captured Paris. But here is the way he ended his speech.

In conclusion, he recalled the Battle of Borodino, which marked the beginning of the end of Napoleon’s 1812 campaign. “We will die defending Moscow, like our brothers died,” he said, reciting a poem by Mikhail Lermontov.  He added, “The battle for Russia continues, and we will win!” The Moscow Times, 2-23-12

Russia has a proud, thousand year history, tradition and culture – Mother Russia, Holy Russia, the mother land resonates deeply in the Russian soul; calling upon that soul is sure to win Putin votes.  Anyone who opposes him does not love Russia and is part of that threatening army.  Sounds a lot like Assad to me, maybe that is why Putin is determined to support Assad, the maybe birds of a feather.



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February 2012
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