Though there’s widespread allegations of heavy handedness in the election process, ex-KGB man Vladimir Putin won the Russian elections with 69% of the vote (much less that Saddam Hussein’s last margin of victory…). Was the election rigged? It’s quite possible. Did it matter to much if it was? Maybe not:

“We voted for Putin because under him there’s been stability in society, in the economy,” said Mikhail Antonchik, a young miner who voted with his wife in Cheryomukhovo, a Ural Mountains village. “You can plan for the family.”

Stablity is something that many Russians value—even over other freedoms. The changes that Yeltsin brought in carried with them great instability. Even though Putin has amassed great personal power in recent years, it’s not that much of a concern for many Russians.

It just goes to show the difference that still remains between the worldviews of East and West.

UPDATE: Nikolas K. Gvosdev echos many of these thoughts in this NRO article:

Even if we lament that this reflects some defect in Russia’s political culture — a preference for authoritarian rulers, proof of how the myth of the “good tsar” permeates Russian political dialogue for the last millennium — it does not change that basic fact: Putin is Russia’s legitimate president.