At that time, the outcome of the voting was never in doubt because Putin's United Russia Party had unbeatable popular support, up to 80% of the voters in places like Chechnya and five or six times the numbers garnered by the real opposition, the Communist and Nationalist parties.
The West was told that political opposition in Russia, which the slavish and gutless US and European media personified in chess champion Gary Kasparov, whose party (more like a chess club) could not even gain enough public backing to make the ballot, was being militarily repressed by the Kremlin with its monopoly over the Russian press.
Of course, Putin and United Russia's real support came from their having turned the economy around and brought peace and security to an enormous part of the Russian population while prosecuting the financial and fiscal crimes fostered by the regime of the late Boris Yeltsin.
Today, with the US and Europe crashing in an economic suicide-stall and trying to keep warm till the bitter end from the heat of their militarily-induced and maintained garbage fires in North Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia (and so many other parts of the world), and with trembling hands cupped out piteously to their Cold War rivals, Russia and China; the only change we would make in this post is to edit the caption of Duci Simonovic's wonderful poster: from "Draw Your Sword, Russia!" to "Draw Us a Check, Russia."
But, then, distorting the History of Russia (and the USSR) has been the irregularly beating heart of the NYTs since its rise to the status of flagship of the Anti-Communist bum wads. --mc]