Saturday, June 25

Putin sweeps elections described as fraudulent by the opposition




Despite the general discontent over the worsening living conditions of the population, nepotism, flagrant cases of corruption, the lack of democracy and transparency, as the ‘smart vote’ proposed by Russia’s main opposition leader was expected, Alexéi Navalni, will promote the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) as the main channel of the protest vote, things have remained practically the same as they were.

The legislative elections held in Russia between Friday and Sunday have not served to substantially modify the composition of the State Duma (Lower House of the Russian Parliament). With the ballot count almost complete, Russia Unidam the party of President Vladimir Putin, has obtained 49.84% of the votes, somewhat less than in the legislative elections of 2016, when it obtained 54.20%.

However, the formation of the Kremlin, according to the president of the Central Electoral Commission, Ella Pamfílova, at a press conference will surely retain the ‘constitutional majority’ or qualified, with more than 300 seats of the 450 that the Duma has , once the vote count is finished in the 225 single-member constituencies.

If so, the Russian president, as he did last year, could amend the Magna Carta at will. In 2020 he had a clause included in his text that allows him, if he deems it appropriate, to run for two more presidential terms (until 2036), after having already served almost four, in addition to the four years he held the position of prime minister. From now on, with the ‘constitutional majority’ in hand, he could undertake further legislative changes to design his political future, either by continuing to lead the country or by forming a mechanism that allows him to guarantee total control over his successor.

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The point is that not even the ‘domesticated’ opposition, made up of the parties with a presence in Parliament, has advanced enough in these elections to put Putin in trouble, the Communist Party has improved its result somewhat compared to 2016. Then he reaped 13.34% of the votes and now 18.95%.

The ultranationalists of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) have even worsened compared to five years ago. Then they obtained 13.14% of the votes and now 7.50%. Its leader, Vladimir Zhirinovski, had a very critical angry speech yesterday in the chamber against the deputies of United Russia, not without insults. In his words, the elections have been a total fraud. He said he hated them. The other party with deputies in the Lower House, the Fair Russia Social Democrats, have improved a bit, from 6.22% in 2016 to 7.45% after the current call, but nothing that could disturb the Kremlin.

The incoming Parliament appears to now have a new party New people (Liberal Conservatives), who obtained 5.33% of the vote. He is on the tightrope because if, after the end of the vote, he falls below five percent, he will not win any seats. The leader of the Yábloko (apple) liberal party, Sergei Mitrojin, could also enter the Chamber, elected from the open lists.

All this in the midst of complaints of “massive fraud” from the opposition, including from the Communist Party, which wants to mobilize its supporters to protest in the center of Moscow, in Pushkin Square, despite the fact that the City Council has already disavowed that they can carry out concentration.

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The Navalni environment maintains that, to achieve the result indicated by the official data, Putin has spared no resources. It started by unleashing aunprecedented repression against all its adversaries. The opposition leader returned to Russia in January, after being cured in Germany from the poisoning he suffered in August 2020, and was arrested.

Other Navalni supporters are jailed, under house arrest or in exile. None have been able to attend the elections as they have been classified by the Russian Justice as “extremists.” Putin’s main political opponent he has not even been able to make his recommendations public on who to vote for. It promoted the ‘smart vote’, whose objective was to support any candidacy capable of depriving United Russia of possibilities.

This tactic has worked in the past, hence the authorities have fought it ruthlessly. All social media accounts calling for ‘smart voting’ were blocked.

But the Kremlin did not stop there. Politicians from very moderate parties like Yabloko have not been allowed to present their candidacies, citing all kinds of formal defects. The clearest case has been that of the head of the party organization in Pskov, Lev Shlosberg. Borís Vishnevski, the head of Yábloko in Saint Petersburg, has even suffered stratagems based on cloning their ballots with opponents of other parties with identical names and surnames and the same physical appearance.

The icing on the cake has been the fraudulent technologies applied during voting and counting. Social networks were filled these days with reports of fraud in numerous schools through filling of ballot boxes with dozens of ballots in favor of United Russia, which has had to recognize even Pamfílova.

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The little or no control over the vote count leaves many shadows of doubt about the cleanliness of the process. Due to the endemic lack of auditors, due to the impossibility of covering the entire vast territory of Russia, and the direct pressure suffered in some regions by those representing the formations that do not have the approval of power, it is added that this time there have been three days of voting and the possibility of casting the ballot electronically. Gennadi Zyuganov, the leader of the Communist Party, said yesterday that he will not recognize online voting in Moscow because of the “strange errors” that have been registered during the vote.

Grigori Melkoniants, co-president of the NGO Golos, which defends the rights of voters and which is labeled with the stigma of ‘foreign agent’, also warned last week that “in some territories of Russia, especially in the North Caucasus, there is a clear danger for the controllers who try to denounce irregular practices ”.

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