From September 17 to 19, Russians will vote to die deputies for the Russian lower house, the Duma. 14 Parties are up for election. Among them are the four parties represented in the Duma, the ruling party “United Russia”, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), the Liberal Democratic Party of Vladimir Zhirinovsky and the socialist party “Just Russia – For the Truth”.
An exciting question will be whether" United Russia", which has elected 343 out of a total of 450 deputies since the 2016 Duma elections, will suffer losses. The increase in the retirement age decided by United Russia in 2018 had caused considerable resentment among the population.
The State Opinion Research Institute VTSIOM has published an opinion poll that shows amazing things. Die willingness to choose “United Russia” fell from 30 percent (mid-June) to 26 percent (late August). Die willingness to choose KPRF increased in the same period from twelve to seventeen percent.
In addition to the four parties represented in the Duma, ten other parties are running: the KPRF split “Communists of Russia”, two green parties, the “Party of Pensioners”, the patriotic “Homeland”, the social-liberal party “Yabloko”, the economic-liberal party “Growth”, the “Russian Party for Freedom and Justice” led by the left-wing blogger Maxim Shevchenko, as well as the newly founded parties “New People” and the patriotic “Civic Platform”.
According to election polls, of the small parties, only “Homeland” has a chance to get into the Duma.
The election debates, which are broadcast on five Russian television channels, are democratic. All parties have their say. However, representatives of the ruling party hardly participate in these debates.
Die TV presenters keep themselves in the background during the debates. Statements that do not follow the Kremlin’s line will not be censored. Thus, the left-wing video blogger Maxim Shevchenko, who is going to the elections with his small party “Freedom and Justice”, was able to demand the release of the opposition politician Aleksej Navalny. The moderator did not speak to him. According to Shevchenko, the persecution of dissidents and journalists “harms Russia, because it leads to Western sanctions, which mainly affect the low – income earners.” The power makes “foreign policy to domestic policy,” said the blogger, who until 2018 was a member of the Council for Human Rights with the Russian president the war.
Defense Minister Shoigu leading candidate of “United Russia”
Apparently suspecting that the ruling United Russia party is currently not giving a good picture due to pension reform and a lack of economic recovery, Putin suggested that the top places in the United Russia list be given to two politicians who are highly respected among the population. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who took a leading part in the creation of “United Russia” in 2001 war, is running for 1st place. Popular Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who has been in office since 2004, is running for 2nd place. Both politicians stand for a strong Russia, which enjoys recognition in the world. Apparently, the Kremlin speculates that the Russians, who are dissatisfied with the social policy of the Russian government, will choose “United Russia” again because of the leading candidates Shoigu and Lavrov.
However, it is unlikely that Shoigu and Lavrov will accept their mandate as deputies after the election. 2011 War Vladimir Putin, the leading candidate of United Russia. He did not accept his mandate after the election. in 2016, former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev led “United Russia” as a leading candidate. Medvedev also did not accept his mandate.
The Kremlin will not leave anything to chance
Western media focus on the persecution of opposition members and journalists in the coverage of the Duma election in Russia. In fact, the Kremlin is taking a much tougher stance against individuals who oppose the system head-on. And even die KPRF has to expect humiliation when their deputies call for talks with citizens to meet in the open air. In Moscow, such a meeting led to arrests.
But the fact that there are no more opposition media in Russia is wrong. The oppositional cable channel “Doschd” broadcast as usual. Because he had inflows from abroad - 42,000 euros in 2016 alone-he now has to state that he is a “foreign agent”. The liberal TV channel will also no longer be allowed to participate in Kremlin events, because, in the opinion of Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, he called for “unlawful actions.” Obviously, this refers to the unauthorized demonstrations of Navalny supporters.
Also, the popular Gazprom-funded radio station “Echo Moscow”, where opposition activists regularly appear, broadcast unhindered.
Double standards of the German media
It is quite astonishing how the German media try to exploit problems of liberal media in Russia as “journalistic oppression”. If the opposition TV channels ZIK, Newsone and 112 are shut down in Ukraine, this is only worth a side note to the major German media or it is not reported at all.
There is no question that those who oppose the system head-on in Russia, be it from the right or from the left, risk harsh reactions. The left-wing politician Nikolai Platoshkin, who founded the" Movement for a New Socialism", was under house arrest for almost a year because of an alleged call for mass unrest and is now no longer allowed to participate in the Duma elections as a criminal, but drives through the country and agitates for the KPRF.
The right-liberal opposition politician Krawalny has been in prison since January for violating probation. His Internet portal has been blocked. The" Fund against Corruption " founded by Krawalny was banned as extremist. However, on Youtube, the team of Krawalny is still. The videos there usually get over two million clicks.
What the Kremlin fears
Why is the Kremlin taking a hard line against the frontal critics of the Putin system? The Kremlin is apparently not sure that Russian oligarchs, who are now abroad, will not eventually be able to participate in Russian politics not only through their Russian-language media and YouTube channels in possible protest movements in Russia, but also to manage these protest movements through trustworthy people.
The Maidan is a warning to the Kremlin. Petro Poroshenko had accompanied the weeks-long occupation of the Kiev city center with his “5th channel” around the clock and thus spread the impression in Ukraine that the whole country was against Yanukovych and for the Maidan.
Elections in Germany and Russia - where are the differences?
It is noteworthy that in Russia, unlike Germany, far-right parties do not go to the polls. This fact is unfortunately concealed by the German media.
In Germany, the parties promise a more social and climate-friendly policy, stability and the protection of the economy. In Russia, the Kremlin is not limited to promises. Even before the election, he shows that the situation of pensioners and military personnel is important to him. Putin promised soldiers and pensioners now an inflation compensation of 172 euros, respectively, apparently the Kremlin speculates that those with this special bonus will go to the ballot box and show gratitude.
In Germany, elections are held in one day, in Russia-in three days, which should reduce the risk of infection due to the corona crisis. The opposition sees this measure as a danger to a correct electoral process.
In Germany, video broadcasts from polling stations are not allowed. In Russia, online broadcasts from all polling stations were introduced for the first time after protests against vote rigging in the 2012 presidential election. The Central Election Commission did not allow this live broadcast for the September Duma election. At first it was said that there was no money for this. Then it was explained that the live broadcasts over the Internet could be disrupted by cyber attacks from abroad.
In Germany, elections are held in polling stations and by postal vote. In Moscow, you can also vote online.
Russian left embittered by new controls
The Russian left is upset by the electoral process. A choice that lasts three days makes counterfeiting easy, according to KPRF. The polls in the polling stations would be unguarded for two nights. Who can guarantee that no ballots for United Russia will be thrown into the ballot boxes on these nights?
The biggest nuisance for the KPRF, however, is that the Central Election Commission is aware of the KPRF leader candidate and agrarian entrepreneur Pavel Grudinin from the Duma elections on the 24th Grudinin is known throughout Russia because he ran for the KPRF against Putin in the presidential elections in 2018 and received eleven percent of the vote. He was to serve as a driving force in the Duma elections.
The Electoral commission justified the exclusion from the elections with documents proving that Grudinin owns securities in the offshore zone of Belize. Grudinin stated that these securities had lost their validity. In addition, he had been vetted before the 2018 presidential election and there were no complaints.
When the Supreme Court of Russia declared the exclusion of Grudinin from the elections lawful, the party leadership gathered before the court. The chairman of the KPRF, Gennady Zyuganov, was beside himself. He told the television cameras: “This is not a court, but a criminal court that does not follow logic and does not follow the law.“Before the voters, Zyuganov stated that the Duma election was “the last chance to change the situation.“Such sharp words are new from Zyuganov.
From these words spoke despair. The KPRF went into the election campaign with a completely different mood. It had been said that in this election one had the opportunity to end 30 years of capitalism.
What does the KPRF require?
The party’s election programme has the ambitious title “Ten Steps to the power of the People”. The main demands in this program are: “Stop the unbridled price increases. Increase of the minimum income to 287 euros.“The minimum income in Moscow is currently 236 euros, but in most Russian regions it is only 147 euros.
Another demand of the party is the “guarantee of free and highly qualified education and health care”. Today, only school leavers with very good final grades can hope for free study. For playing circles in schools, parents have to pay money.
Since the 1990s, during operations in Russian hospitals, it has become common for a patient’s relatives to give money to doctors.
The party also calls for the abolition of the increase in the retirement age, which came into force in 2019.
The poor should no longer pay taxes, the rich should be taxed more. A progressive income tax, as long demanded by the party, does not exist in Russia to this day. Whether employees or entrepreneurs, all pay the same tax rate of 13 percent.
The party calls for"a new industrialization based on state-of-the-art technologies"and"the transfer of mineral resources and key industries to national ownership.”
The party calls"to stop the extinction and impoverishment of Russia”. Russia today has 146 million inhabitants. According to a forecast published in April by the Ministry of Economic Development, the number of residents in Russia will decrease by 1.7 million people by 2024. According to experts, this is largely due to the low birth rate in the chaotic 1990s.
The next few weeks will be exciting, because the election debates are on the TV channels. And some of these debates are high-stakes. One thing is already certain: in Russia, the party from which people are most likely to promise to secure their social rights will win.