Putin Celebrates Victory with an Imported Crowd

Although official results from the election will not be available until tomorrow, Vladimir Putin has already given a victory speech proclaiming, “We have won in an open and fair struggle. (…) We defeated those who want Russia destroyed.”  To make sure he had a nice big crowd of enthusiastic supporters to look good on TV, they bused them in from the regions.  From The Financial Times:

“Huge numbers of people are being brought into the city on planes and buses,” said Yevgenia Albats, editor of the New Times magazine. “The Kremlin is preparing for a demonstration of a huge victory. It will be presented as a victory over the enemies of the state. This is the most dangerous thing. I am concerned this is going to turn into clashes. We have to be prepared.”

The jitters increased after Vladimir Putin claimed last week that his enemies living abroad were planning a “sacrificial murder” of a prominent opposition figure to stoke unrest and discredit the Kremlin.

But while Mr Navalny swatted Mr Putin’s threatening words aside, other supporters at Masterskaya said the Kremlin may be ultimately powerless to stop the groundswell of civic activism spurred by the falsification reports in December.

“Anyone who is anyone is now working as an election observer,” Ms Albats said. “This is mass mobilisation on an unprecedented scale.”