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Parliamentary elections are unlikely to change Russian politics

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Moscow – After weeks of miserable campaigns, months of relentless official movements locked out serious opponents. Russia will vote for three days in parliamentary elections this weekend that are unlikely to change the country’s political face.

United Russia, a party dedicated to President Vladimir Putin, is unlikely to lose control of the elected House of Representatives. The main question to be answered is whether the party will keep a majority of the current two-thirds to change the constitution. Whether voter turnout on anemia slowed the party’s glory. And whether the smart voting initiative of the imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny turns out to be a viable strategy for this.

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“There are few conspiracies in these elections … and, in fact, they won’t leave any special mark on political history,” Andrey Kolesnikov, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, told The Associated Press.

Elections are truly competitive, with 14 parties holding half of the candidates for the 450 Duma seats selected from the party list. However, the three parties, with the exception of United Russia, which are expected to release the 5% support required for a seat, rarely challenge the Kremlin.

The Kremlin wants to lead a new parliament that will take place in 2024, when Putin’s current term expires, and it must stand for re-election or choose another strategy to stay in power. ..

The other half of the seats are elected in individual constituencies where independent candidates and candidates from smaller parties like the liberal Yabloko have stronger potential. These seats are also where the Nawarney team’s intelligent voting strategy can prevail.

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Avoiding ideologies designed to undermine United Russia, the program merely advises voters which non-ruling candidates are the strongest in a single mission race.

It’s essentially a defensive strategy.

“A vote to the detriment of United Russia is not a sensible goal, nor is the goal of choosing another candidate whom you ideologically support,” said Kolesnikov. But in 2018, when opposition candidates won 20 of the 45 seats in the Moscow City Duma and a year later, when United Russia lost a majority in the parliaments of the three big cities, it came into effect for the first time. I did.

However, it is unclear how widespread it will be this year after authorities blocked access to the site. The service will continue to be available through the app, but Russia has threatened Apple and Google with a fine for removing the app from its online store. Last week, the State Department summoned US Ambassador John Sullivan to protest the election interference by the US “digital giant”.

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The site lockdown was Russia’s most prominent and key opposition organization, the latest move in neutralizing Operation Navalny, which can spark significant protests across the country.

Navalny himself was arrested in January when he returned from Germany to Russia, which had recovered from his neurotoxin addiction. He was then sentenced to two and a half years in prison. The court later banned Nawalny’s network of anti-corruption foundations and its local offices as an extremist organization, banned people associated with the group from seeking public office and exposed them to long prison terms.

Russian officials have also blocked around 50 websites belonging to his team or his supporters in order to spread extremist propaganda.

In August Russia added an independent election observation group called Golos to its list of foreign agents. This does not affect its activity, but it strongly suggests that it should be viewed with suspicion.

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The European Organization for Security Co-operation, whose election observation mission is widely considered to be authoritative, does not send observers to parliamentary votes because it imposes excessive restrictions on Russia.

In addition to the House of Commons elections, nine Russian regions elect the governor, 39 regions elect the parliament and voters in 11 cities elect the city council.

The electoral commission has ordered the voting to be extended to three days and ending on Sunday in order to reduce polling station congestion during the coronavirus pandemic. Critics say this decision increases the likelihood of ballot tampering. Commission chief Ella Pamfilova denies the allegation, saying the polling station is “fully video-monitored” and the ballot papers can be kept in secure containers.

Other ethical concerns also arise with the choice. According to the state-funded polling institute VTsIOM, more than one in ten workers was asked to vote by their boss. In St. Petersburg, a Yabloko candidate named Boris Vishnevsky, who is running for the Duma and the local council at the same time, has two other men who use the name against him in every race. discovered. United Russia, according to the Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

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Opinion polls show that general support for United Russia is low, but the party is expected to take the overwhelming lead in the new parliament. The current independent political center predicts that it will acquire 299 to 306 seats from its current 343 seats, within the 303 seat range required for a constitutional amendment.

The centre’s predictions suggest that most of the seats lost by United Russia will be taken over by the Communist Party, the second largest faction in parliament. But just as the other two parties are likely to win double-digit seats, the parties are largely in line with the Kremlin line.

“Communists themselves are not that dangerous,” said commentator Sergei Parkhomenko on Moscow Radio Echo. The party is a “tool for imitating the opposition movement”.

After the parliamentary elections in 2011, widespread allegations of fraud sparked massive protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg. However, with the opposition group neutered, the prospects for this fear seem a long way off.

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“Protests will not come from where we expect, when we expect, and from the people we expect,” said Percomenko.

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Olga Tregubova from Moscow contributed to this.

Copyright 2021 AP Communication. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in any way without permission.

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