Yesterday on Morning Edition Gregory Feifer reported on what I think is a brilliant and scary plot by Putin to create a fake opposition candidate. All the candidates that have any chance of getting significant backing or media (like Garry Kasparov) have been blocked at every turn with claims that the signatures they needed to make it on the ballot were forged. However, now there's a new candidate, Andrei Bogdanov, whom no one has ever heard of but who had no problem getting his candidacy approved. Mr. Feifer interviewed plenty of Russians who had no idea who this guy was either, and his interviews with the candidate made him sound like an absolute novice who was really excited because, although no one showed up to see him on his campaign stop, a few people in the street recognized him.
Personally, I think this sounds like it's right out of a novel. Not only does Putin have pretty much absolute power to go with his popular support, but he's not content with that and needs to exert complete control by actually creating a fake candidate to consolidate the opposition on someone harmless. How much do you want to bet that right before the election Mr. Bogdanov comes out and says that he supports Putin after all?