Foreign Policy recently made a list of five elections that it considers to have been the ugliest. The March 2008 Russian elections shared a top five spot with Nigeria in 2007, Austria in 2008, New Zealand in 2008, and Taiwan in 2008.
Why FP picked the March 2008 Russian presidential elections: Dmitry Medvedev, outgoing President Vladimir Putin’s handpicked successor, coasted to victory in this race. Still, that didn’t stop the far right from launching bizarre anti-Semitic attacks against him for his alleged Jewish background. (Medvedev is Russian Orthodox.) “Medvedev never hid his sympathy towards Judaism,” complained Nikolai Bondarik of the fringe Russian Party.
Although Medvedev remained above the fray, an assortment of second-tier candidates spent their time squabbling among each other, threatening legal action and occasionally coming to blows. These included the eccentric ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the nearly unknown liberal Masonic Grand Master Andrei Bogdanov, and Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov. Zhirinovsky shot a cardboard cutout of Medvedev with a large-caliber rifle at a campaign rally, while Bogdanov stormed out of a televised debate after being unable to get a word in edgewise.