Saturday, October 23

Putin confined after dozens of his collaborators have tested positive

Putin, during a video conference this Friday.

Putin, during a video conference this Friday.

The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has voted this Friday in the parliamentary elections electronically, because he is confined because “several dozen” people in his close circle of work have tested positive for COVID-19.

Putin recalled that the electronic voting system is practiced in many countries of the world and that it has already been used several times in Moscow. In parallel, he has transferred that he “trusts” in the “active” participation of citizens in the elections. “Make your choice,” he said, according to the Sputnik news agency.

The elections to the Lower House of Russia are held this year simultaneously with the legislative elections in 39 territorial entities and the election of twelve regional governors, amid criticism from the opposition to the country’s president, Vladimir Putin. The elections are marked by the so-called “useful vote” and are interpreted as a referendum for the Kremlin.

Russia has started a process that will culminate on Sunday and will renew the State Duma, the Lower House of Parliament, in which the ruling United Russia hopes to revalidate its majority without many surprises, although with the shadow of a low popularity that threatens to grant more votes to an opposition that, although fragmented, could be made with more parliamentarians.

These elections will involve the renewal of 450 seats in the Duma, in which 226 parliamentarians are needed to have a majority –aCurrently United Russia has 336 seats. The election system is twofold, since half of the seats are decided by list of political parties and the other half is chosen from single-member electoral districts.

“The elections have to do with support for the president and his system,” explains the President of Politics and Institutions of Russia at the Carnegie Center in Moscow, Andrei Kolesnikov, adding that the result of these three days of voting is “plus a vote of confidence on Putin and his regime “ that pursues the objective of “reaffirming the ‘status quo’ and the current regime”.

The most recent polls, however, show the low popularity of the president’s party, something that even motivated Putin himself to step aside and place well-known figures, such as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, or the Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigu, so as not to influence the results.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shiogu voting on Friday. EFE

The latest polls, including those of INSOMAR, the Center for Public Opinion Studies (WCIOM) and the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), forecast between 29 and 30 percent of the votes for United russia, followed by the Communist Party that would oscillate between 14 and 16.5 percent according to these polls.

The three days of elections are also marked by the coronavirus pandemic, which has served as a pretext for the authorities to extend the elections beyond Sunday, which is when they were scheduled, in a maneuver that the opposition has already advanced that will serve to hinder fraud controls and, therefore, expand the possibilities of the ruling party to manipulate the results. In fact, “forgeries and dirty tricks” have already been present in the election campaign, explains Kolesnikov.

But not only the three-day election day would facilitate possible fraud or deceptive mechanisms when voting. The lack of international observers would also be a reason to doubt the results, according to the opposition. Although some international observers are expected to attend, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has decided not to send a mission, while Russia’s vast geographic spread and long voting hours complicate observation mechanisms.

In fact, from the EU, although they have avoided talking about non-recognition of the results, they have already warned that the legislative ones take place in a “climate of intimidation“According to the Foreign spokesman for the Twenty-seven, Peter Stano, has told Europa Press, while the European Parliament has already asked that they not be recognized. The United States has also spoken out, criticizing the” restrictions “imposed by Moscow that they have “prevented” observing the electoral process “independently”.

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