Something fishy is clearly going on. So now the question is, why did the OSCE turn against Russia?
Both Cohen and Kagarlitsky believe that part of the OSCE's shift is benign.
"It was a combination of the shifting mood in Europe towards Russia, the eXile and The Moscow Times," said Cohen. "You guys and the Moscow Times shamed them after the last elections."
"I know there were many observers who reported plenty of terrible things in previous elections but these reports never managed to find their way into final reports because the West was obsessed with incorporating Russia into the global capitalist system," said Kagarlitsky. "Now that Russia is part of that system, the pressure is not that strong, so these things finally get heard."
A less benign theory concerns the West's dissatisfaction with the results of the elections. The West had signed off on all the previous Russian elections because it saw that its people, namely the so-called "Young Reformers" in SPS, were either in control of the country or, in the case of the 2000 elections, still a major force. Sunday's elections are the first post-Soviet Russian elections in which U.S-backed political forces were crushed -- and not coincidentally, the first post-Soviet Russian elections which the West condemned.
Would the OSCE have been so critical of Sunday's elections if, under identical circumstances, SPS and Yabloko had maintained or increased their share of power?
"No," said Cohen. "Nobody laments or cares if the Communists were cheated. The entire lament is for Yabloko and SPS. Chubais and Nemtsov are so well connected in this country that they will get to tell the story to the Western correspondents -- well, you know this; why am I telling you?"
Kagarlitsky agreed. "Some people in the West are really worried about the outcome, and they have their reasons. The guys that are representing the West's interests in Russia are no longer in power." In particular, the loss of Chubais -- whom Kagarlitsky likened to a smotreschii, a Mafia term for the person that the Mafia puts in charge of a factory it controls in order to make sure that it is being properly shaken down -- is a particularly harsh blow. "Now America has lost its smotreschii here in Russia, and they have learned that Chubais was overrated all along."
Incredibly enough, in a press conference on Monday the OSCE's George admitted, perhaps inadvertently, that the results of the elections were what bothered him.
Buried in an article in Tuesday's Moscow Times titled "OSCE: Vote Fundamentally Flawed" was this amazing aside: "The OSCE also took the highly unusual step of betraying its preference for the outcome. 'I think it is one of the saddest things,' said George, commenting on the failure of the two liberal parties, Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces, to surmount the 5 percent barrier for entering the Duma."
In other words, the OSCE was concerned with the results as well as the process. The OSCE's job is not to ensure that the West obtains its desired results in elections -- that should be up to the Russian people. The OSCE should only be interested in the democratic process.
Which brings us to the one element that is missing from the West's sanctimoniousness: the will of the Russian people. Has anyone considered whether or not they genuinely rejected Western-backed "democratic" parties identified with the economic and social disasters of the 1990s in favor of Putin's party (Russia only started to grow under Putin's reign) and others which oppose the democrats to varying degrees? In fact, isn't the result of the Duma election completely logical?
"You notice that all of the parties that did well ran against the oligarchy and the oligarchical system," said Cohen. "Even United Russia -- which helped create that system and benefited from it -- ran against it. That system -- in which, while Russia is dying, a handful of guys in the energy sector park their money abroad -- can't go on."