The final count has Vladimir Putin crushing all his rivals with 63.6 percent of the March 4 vote for the Russian president. Yes, he rigged the elections a little. After all, it is Russia where even if a strongman’s victory is certain he still pulls some levers behind the scenes, if only for the sake of Russian political tradition. But monitoring agencies agree that, even without cheating, Putin would still have garnered about 53 percent of the vote—placing him head-and-shoulders above the second-place contender’s 17 percent.
The bottom line is that Mr. Putin has made his rule of Russia official once again, and Russians, by and large, are happy about it. But that doesn’t mean that Putin is returning to the Kremlin exactly as he left it.