Alex Massie

It’s a funny old world...

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"News" you expected from Russia:

Russian President Vladimir Putin's party has won a landslide election victory, official results show.

With more than 80% of ballots counted, his United Russia had 63% of the vote. The opposition Communists and two other parties were also poised to win seats.

Opposition allegations of fraud were dismissed by the electoral commission.

News you may not have expected from Venezuela:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has narrowly lost a referendum on controversial constitutional changes.

Voters rejected the sweeping reforms by a margin of 51% to 49%, the chief of the National Electoral Council said.

Mr Chavez described the defeat as a "photo finish", and urged followers not to turn it into a point of conflict.

No wider point here, except that a) there's only so much that is likely to be gained from castigating Mr Putin and b) whatever his shortcomings perhaps this result might persuade some hysterics that Mr Chavez is not, as the phrase has it, an especially grave "clear and present danger" to the United States of America.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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