March 05, 2012
MOSCOW - Vladimir Putin admitted that during his victory speech to supporters in Manege Square, there were tears in his eyes. But the ever-proud winner of Russia's presidential election had an explanation. "It was the wind," he said.
Still, how Putin was feeling was apparent to the whole world.
The emotions that overcame the Russian leader during the victory rally in the capital's Manege Square could not be solely explained by the joy of winning the election. What else was at stake?
Both his opponents and supporters doubted the prime minister would be able to claim total victory in his bid to return to the presidency. Most talk was about the measure of the outcome. Would voting go to a second round? Would the elections simply be "sterile," the same old story?
So Sunday evening in Manege Square would turn out to be payback for Putin for a far less pleasant evening in Moscow's Olympisky Stadium complex in November. There are different versions of events that night. Did the whole hall boo the prime minister? Maybe they were booing someone else? Whatever the case, the next day, officials claimed there was, in fact, no booing at all. But the denials were made with such zeal, no one believed them.
At that point, a suspicion formed in the minds of the people. Just maybe, Vladimir Putin was no longer popular. This would be an indictment of both him and the political system he had created. After Putin had been transformed from a Kremlin official into a public figure, he had always enjoyed high approval ratings, which were both the goal itself and a means to an end.
Putin had moved closer to both the Liberals and Conservatives, changed domestic and foreign policy priorities, but every move was always accompanied by high ratings, showering this political figure with power and stature.
But the decline in popularity had actually begun several months earlier, when the prime minister's unbridled enthusiasm started to cause some irritation.
It was reported internationally, and the mass meetings with their anti-Putin slogans, and the relative failure of Putin's party in the Duma elections seemed to be a prologue to significant change.
A special thank you
On the night of the elections, having returned to his headquarters, Putin got in touch with workers at the Uralvagonzavod tank factory in Nizhny Tagil, which he visited in December, an encounter that had given him great encouragement.
The president-elect paid homage to the old political instincts that his supporters had awakened in him, and promised to return to the factory and solve its problems. But most of all, he said these workers had helped him decide to continue the fight. It is rare indeed for Putin to credit those whose actions inspire him.
All these past months, Vladimir Putin worked to regain the confidence of the public, not of everyone, but of those who were willing to support him. The election campaign was conducted vigorously, in full compliance with the law, the number of votes rising with the number of hands shaken. A fire was lit under campaign workers: either work for a Putin victory, or realize that "no one is irreplaceable." The frontrunner was also bound to benefit from the errors made by his opponents.
Pleasing poll figures began to come out around three weeks ago, but they were more for the mind than the soul. The rally in Moscow's Luzhniki stadium on February 23 was meant to restore confidence in the people, but there was still a lot of time before the vote.
At Manege Square, people heard how it was "not just a Russian presidential election, it was a very important test for everyone, for all of our people. It was a test of political maturity, of independence." These words gave an insight into his happiness and what he had gone through in the last few months.
The road from the booing crowd at the Olympisky Stadium to the cheers at Manege Square was a long one, but he reached it, with a bit of work and patience. Now, Putin feels he has fresh evidence of his popularity, and he will use this as an instrument of state policy.
However, the situation has not returned to what it was a few years ago. And not only will Vladimir Putin not squander this latest rebound in popularity, he will guard it very carefully.
Read the original article in Russian
Photo - russianhockeyde
Kommersant ("The Businessman") was founded in 1989 as the first business newspaper in the Russia. Originally a weekly, Kommersant is now a daily newspaper with strong political and business coverage. It has been owned since 2006 by Alisher Usmanov, the director of a subsidiary of Gazprom.
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
October 26, 2021
Welcome to Tuesday, where violence erupts after Sudan's military coup, Australia finally gets onboard with climate change goals, and Harrison Ford stars in Raiders of the Lost Credit Card. From Bogota, we also see what the capture of drug kingpin Otoniel means for Colombia, a country long stained by cocaine trafficking.
[*Nĭhǎo - Mandarin Chinese]
Saving the planet is really a question of dopamine
The elite of the ecologically minded are set to descend on Glasgow next week for the Cop 26 conference on climate change. But beyond debating policy prescriptions, French daily Les Echos explores the role our own brains have on making the right choices for the planet:
Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?
In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.
This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.
Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the "pleasure hormone."
Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.
No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.
According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.
Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.
Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.
— Stefano Lupieri / Les Echos
• Sudan in chaos following military coup: After Sudan's military seized power from the transitional government, defiant anti-coup protesters have returned to the streets of the capital city Khartoum, for a second consecutive day. At least seven people have been killed and 140 injured. Coup leader General Al-Burhan has announced a state of emergency across the country, while the military cut off access to the internet and closed roads, bridges, and Khartoum's airport. Washington condemned the coup and suspended aid, and the U.N. Security Council was expected to discuss Sudan behind closed doors later today.
• Egypt lifts state of emergency in force since 2017: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, announced the end of a four-year-old state of emergency, undoing powers that had given the government sweeping authority to quash protests, make arrests, search people's homes without warrants, and control everyday life in the most populous Arab country.
• Platforms take down Bolsonaro video linking vaccine and AIDS: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have removed an anti-vaccine video from their respective platforms posted by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Beyond blocking the video, in which Bolsonaro falsely linked the COVID-19 vaccine with developing AIDS, YouTube went further and suspended the far-right leader for a week.
• COVID update: The U.S. will launch a new travel system on November 8, imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign national travellers and lifting severe travel restrictions over China, India and much of Europe. Meanwhile, authorities in northern China are reimposing lockdown, and other emergency measures as COVID-19 infections spread to 11 provinces.
• Australia pledges net zero emissions by 2050: As one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita and a major exporter of fossil fuels such as coal, Australia has finally committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. This is a target already adopted by most nations heading to next week's COP26 international climate conference, but that Australia had so far refused to pledge.
• Japanese princess loses royal status over wedding: Japan's Princess Mako married her boyfriend Kei Komuro, giving up her royal status. Under Japanese law, female imperial family members lose their status upon marriage to a "commoner" although male members do not.
• Raiders of the Lost Credit Card: A tourist returned the credit card of American actor Harrison Ford, who had lost it in Sicily while shooting scenes for the latest Indiana Jones movie.
"Out of control," titles German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, reporting on the release of a series of articles by a consortium of 17 U.S. news outlets, called the "Facebook Papers," that reinforce whistleblower Frances Haugen's claims that the social media giant is prioritizing profits over the well being of its users and society.
After striking a deal to sell 100,000 electric vehicles to car rental firm Hertz, Elon Musk's Tesla has joined Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google's Alphabet in the club of companies that have reached a $1 trillion valuation.
What the capture of a drug kingpin means for Colombia
While the capture of Otoniel, Colombia's most wanted drug trafficker, made global headlines, Bogotá daily El Espectador writes about the significance of the news for a country that has battled narcotrafficking for decades.
👮 The arrest of the Colombian mobster Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, a.k.a. "Otoniel," is a victory for Colombian intelligence, law-and-order forces and the broader fight against crime. Details of the eight-year-long pursuit of the head of the Gulf Clan, of the tireless and meticulous work, testify to the capabilities that the police and army have managed to develop in the fight against the narco-trafficking that has long been a stain on Colombia.
🇨🇴🇲🇽 Otoniel is responsible for a criminal organization with more than 3,800 members and influence on 12 departments and 128 districts in Colombia (though data from the Bogotá-based Peace and Reconciliation Foundation counts 211 districts). The Gulf Clan sends half the drugs going out of Colombia, and is the main exporter to Mexico. Its ties to the Mexican cartel chief Joaquín "el Chapo" Guzmán are well-documented — and Otoniel had aspired to fill the power vacuum left by Guzmán's capture.
⚖️ Some have observed that the ensuing power vacuum will engender more violence, which is true. But we are, in any case, far from eliminating drug trafficking in Colombia or cutting its tentacles across public life. That shows the limitations of the hard-line response to drugs, when we have seen it is not enough. Still, it is essential in any fight against crime for the state to show its operational capabilities. The message is clear: not even drug overlords are above the law in Colombia.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
"I love Mako. I would like to spend my one life with the person I love."
— Kei Komuro said during a news conference after his wedding with Japan's Princess Mako, the niece of the current emperor and the sister of the likely future sovereign. The princess lost her royal status as a result of her marriage with Komuro, a "commoner."
An art installation "Greetings From Giza" by French artist and photographer JR faces the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, as part of the 2021 exhibition "'Forever Is Now," the first international art exhibition to take place there — Photo: Balkis Press/Abaca/ZUMA
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
Send all commoner and royal well wishes to Mako and Kei — and let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world! firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!