It is becoming more and more difficult to pretend* that Vladimir Putin is anything other than a thug and fraudster, despite the fervent efforts of cranks to lionise Dobby as the arch enemy of those dastardly neo cons, noted brain donor Neil Clark is a case in point here. Anyone who doubts that the Russian election was rigged should check out the extraordinary voting patterns discovered over here. Or failing that just look at the 99% Putin's party won in Chechnya.
Why Putin would rig an election that he was likely to win, and do it in such a brazen manner, is something to ponder. If his true vote was likely in the mid 40s even after the crackdown on internal opposition that would have given him a mandate to govern but not to overturn the constitution and remain in power for life. There is little that the West can do about it but we should not be under any illusions that it is not a democratic country, it is not an ally, it is not a friend and there is no reason to treat their leaders with the slightest respect.
* I have to admit I personally thought that Putin was a good leader up until at least 2004, and was far more dismissive of the warning signs than I should have been.