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Amazingly, 27% said they thought the media were biased against Yeltsin. After the elections, a Petersburg journalist denounced the aftermath in an article, “The Virtual Reality of the Elections.” A general sense of unreality and nihilism spread throughout the creative class in the aftermath of Yeltsin’s victory.

His ad agency boss explains how this virtual reality democracy works: “[T]hat's what we call the Duma 3-Ds. And that one over there, sleeping across his newspaper — he's a semi-stiff. Even if we do sit a live human being in front of the camera, his speeches are going to be written by a team of speechwriters, his jackets are going to be chosen by a group of stylists, and his decisions are going to be taken by the Interbank Committee.

Russia was on its way to going extinct—but about 3-5% of the population (plus or minus 3%) was making out like bandits. Enter the “political technologists”—Americans led by Dick Morris’ former partner Richard Dresner, and Russians at advertising behemoth Video International, led by Mikhail Lesin and former KGB spy Mikhail Margelov — who took credit for pulling off a credible stolen election for Boris Yeltsin.

Time magazine wound up crediting the Americans with “Rescuing Boris,” which was turned into a B-movie, “Spinning Boris,” directed by "Turner & Hootch"'s Roger Spottiswoode.

The political technologists were given a seemingly-impossible task: make Yeltsin’s pre-ordained election victory look just plausible enough to be hailed by the West as a triumph for democracy, while domestically, imposing on Russians a sense of overwhelming fatalism so complete that they wouldn’t rise up again in arms as they had in 1993.