•   
  •   
  •   

World Russia opposition stifled but unbowed as Duma election nears

10:06  14 september  2021
10:06  14 september  2021 Source:   msn.com

Parliamentary election unlikely to change Russia's politics

  Parliamentary election unlikely to change Russia's politics MOSCOW (AP) — After a few weeks of desultory campaigning but months of relentless official moves to shut down significant opposition, Russia is holding three days of voting this weekend in a parliamentary election that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. There’s no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance of the State Duma, the elected lower house of parliament. The main questions to be answered are whether the party will retain its current two-thirds majority that allows it to amend the constitution; whether anemic turnout will dull the party’s prestige; and whether imprisoned oppositi

MOSCOW (AP) — In the months before Sunday's parliamentary election in Russia, authorities unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition, making sure that the best-known and loudest Kremlin critics didn’t run.

FILE - In this April 28, 2021, file photo, municipal workers paint over an image of Russia's imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg, Russia. In the months before the Sept. 19 parliamentary election in Russia, authorities unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition, making sure the best-known and loudest Kremlin critics didn’t run. Navalny, Putin's biggest critic who dented United Russia's dominance in regional legislatures in recent years, is serving a 2½-year prison sentence for violating parole for a conviction he says was politically motivated. (AP Photo/Valentin Egorshin, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this April 28, 2021, file photo, municipal workers paint over an image of Russia's imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg, Russia. In the months before the Sept. 19 parliamentary election in Russia, authorities unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition, making sure the best-known and loudest Kremlin critics didn’t run. Navalny, Putin's biggest critic who dented United Russia's dominance in regional legislatures in recent years, is serving a 2½-year prison sentence for violating parole for a conviction he says was politically motivated. (AP Photo/Valentin Egorshin, File)

Some were barred from seeking public office under new, repressive laws. Some were forced to leave the country after threats of prosecution. Some were jailed.

Communists, observers report violations in Duma election

  Communists, observers report violations in Duma election MOSCOW (AP) — The head of Russia’s second-largest political party is alleging widespread violations in the election for a new national parliament, in which his party is widely expected to gain seats. Communist Party head Gennady Zyuganov said on Saturday — the second of three days of voting in the election — that police and the national elections commission must respond to reports of “a number of absolutely egregious facts” including ballot-stuffing in several regions. The Golos election-monitoring movement and independent media also reported violations including vote-buying and lax measures for guarding ballots at polling stations.

Pressure also mounted on independent media and human rights activists: A dozen news outlets and rights groups were given crippling labels of “foreign agents” and “undesirable organizations” or accused of ties with them.

The embattled opposition groups admit the Kremlin has left them few options or resources ahead of the Sept. 19 election that is widely seen as a key to President Vladimir Putin’s effort to cement his hold on power. But they still hope to erode the dominance of the ruling United Russia party in the State Duma, or parliament.

“We still want to take a lot of seats away from the United Russia so that a lot of сandidates not approved (by the authorities) become State Duma deputies and members of regional legislatures,” Leonid Volkov, top ally of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, told The Associated Press.

EXPLAINER: How Navalny election tool challenges the Kremlin

  EXPLAINER: How Navalny election tool challenges the Kremlin MOSCOW (AP) — Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his embattled allies are not running in the Sept. 19 parliamentary election, but they still hope to challenge the ruling United Russia party with their strategy known as Smart Voting. Hardly any Kremlin critics are allowed to run in the election to the parliament, or State Duma. Control of that body is seen as a key part of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to cement his hold on power heading into the next presidential balloting, scheduled for 2024. Putin already has been running Russia since 2000.

The election is crucial because the Kremlin wants complete control over the next parliament, opposition politicians and political analysts say. The Duma chosen this year will still be in place in 2024, when Putin’s current term expires and he must decide on running for re-election or choosing some other strategy to stay in power.

People sit at a bus stop decorated with election posters ahead of the parliamentary election to the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament and local parliament in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. In the months before the Sept. 19 parliamentary election in Russia, authorities unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition, making sure the best-known and loudest Kremlin critics didn’t run. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky) © Provided by Associated Press People sit at a bus stop decorated with election posters ahead of the parliamentary election to the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament and local parliament in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. In the months before the Sept. 19 parliamentary election in Russia, authorities unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition, making sure the best-known and loudest Kremlin critics didn’t run. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

“Putin loves to maintain uncertainty and make decisions at the last minute,” says political analyst Abbas Gallyamov, a former Kremlin speechwriter.

Russia's authoritarianism and political crackdown could get worse after weekend vote, experts say

  Russia's authoritarianism and political crackdown could get worse after weekend vote, experts say Russia will be holding elections to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, this weekend and experts expect the vote to bolster the Kremlin further.It's widely expected that the ruling United Russia party will secure a "convincing victory" in the vote that takes place between September 17-19, with one analyst noting that the election "heralds more authoritarianism" as a result.

“No one will know until the last minute what he will do in 2024," Gallyamov said. "Will he run himself once again or put forward a successor? … Will it be another constitutional reform, or will a new cabinet need to be approved, or election laws need to be changed? … All roads must be open to Putin, he must feel that his options are not limited by anything. For that, the parliament must be absolutely obedient.”

It's equally important to eliminate any risk of lawmakers supporting possible protests in 2024, Gallyamov said, because a directly elected institution opposing the Kremlin alongside demonstrators could take the conflict to another level.

FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2021, file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he delivers his speech during a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia. The embattled opposition groups admit the Kremlin has left them few options and resources ahead of the Sept. 19 election that is widely seen as a key to Putin’s effort to cement his hold on power. But they still hope to erode the dominance of the ruling United Russia party in the State Duma, or parliament. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2021, file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he delivers his speech during a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia. The embattled opposition groups admit the Kremlin has left them few options and resources ahead of the Sept. 19 election that is widely seen as a key to Putin’s effort to cement his hold on power. But they still hope to erode the dominance of the ruling United Russia party in the State Duma, or parliament. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool, File)

It won't be easy, however, to preserve United Russia's dominance in parliament, where it holds 334 of 450 seats.

Just 27 Percent of Russians Prepared to Vote for Putin's Party in Upcoming Election

  Just 27 Percent of Russians Prepared to Vote for Putin's Party in Upcoming Election Russian authorities cracked down on potential opposition, enacting new laws that blocked some from running for office and even jailing others. Abbas Gallyamov, a political analyst and former speechwriter for the Kremlin, said that administrative efforts to overpower the opposition may be the only way United Russia can pursue control with the small percentage of votes expected to go to the party. For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

A poll by the independent Levada Center showed only 27% of Russians are prepared to vote for the party. Thus, steamrolling the opposition and using administrative leverage is the only way, Gallyamov said.

Navalny, Putin's biggest critic who dented United Russia's dominance in regional legislatures in recent years, is serving a 2½-year prison sentence for violating parole for a conviction he says was politically motivated. That followed his return to Russia from Germany, where he was treated for a poisoning by a nerve agent that he blamed on the Kremlin, which denies it.

FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2021, file photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands in a cage in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow, Russia. In the months before the Sept. 19 parliamentary election in Russia, authorities unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition, making sure the best-known and loudest Kremlin critics didn’t run. Navalny, Putin's biggest critic who dented United Russia's dominance in regional legislatures in recent years, is serving a 2½-year prison sentence for violating parole for a conviction he says was politically motivated. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2021, file photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands in a cage in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow, Russia. In the months before the Sept. 19 parliamentary election in Russia, authorities unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition, making sure the best-known and loudest Kremlin critics didn’t run. Navalny, Putin's biggest critic who dented United Russia's dominance in regional legislatures in recent years, is serving a 2½-year prison sentence for violating parole for a conviction he says was politically motivated. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

Navalny's top allies were slapped with criminal charges, and his Foundation for Fighting Corruption and a network of regional offices have been outlawed as extremist organizations.

How Putin is embracing authoritarianism as state elections loom

  How Putin is embracing authoritarianism as state elections loom If you were to ask the Kremlin, Alexei Navalny is currently an involuntary resident of Corrective Colony No. 2 in Vladimir Oblast because he violated the terms of his parole stemming from a 2014 conviction for fraud and money laundering. © Provided by Washington Examiner Laughably missing from this explanation is the fact that when Navalny failed to attend court-ordered bi-monthly meetings with Russian officials from Sept. to Dec. 2021, the staunch Putin critic and anti-corruption activist was hospitalized in Berlin. He was recovering from a Kremlin assassination attempt that involved the deadly nerve agent Novichok.

That has exposed hundreds of people associated with the groups to prosecution. The parliament also quickly rubber-stamped a law barring those with ties to extremist organizations from seeking office.

As a result, no one from Navalny’s team is running, and many have left the country. About 50 websites run by Navalny and his associates have been blocked, and dozens of regional offices are closed. Several other opposition activists were not allowed to run because they supported Navalny.

Another prominent Kremlin critic, former lawmaker Dmitry Gudkov, was briefly arrested in June along with his aunt on fraud charges. Gudkov said he had planned to run in a Moscow district against a less-popular United Russia candidate, but authorities pushed him out of the race.

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2021, file photo, detained protesters walk escorted by police during a protest against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg, Russia. The January protests in scores of cities across the country were the largest outpouring of discontent in years and appeared to have rattled the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2021, file photo, detained protesters walk escorted by police during a protest against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg, Russia. The January protests in scores of cities across the country were the largest outpouring of discontent in years and appeared to have rattled the Kremlin. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File)

“They took my aunt, found some alleged 6-year-old debt she owed for a rented basement, added me to the case, arrested the two of us for two days, and made it clear that if I don’t drop out of the election and don’t leave the country, they will imprison me and my aunt,” Gudkov told the AP. He then left the country.

FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2020, file photo, Leonid Volkov, a top strategist for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, addresses the media in Berlin, Germany. In the months before the Sept. 19 parliamentary election in Russia, authorities unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition, making sure the best-known and loudest Kremlin critics didn’t run. “We still want to take a lot of seats away from the United Russia so that a lot of candidates not approved (by the authorities) become State Duma deputies and members of regional legislatures,” Volkov said. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2020, file photo, Leonid Volkov, a top strategist for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, addresses the media in Berlin, Germany. In the months before the Sept. 19 parliamentary election in Russia, authorities unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition, making sure the best-known and loudest Kremlin critics didn’t run. “We still want to take a lot of seats away from the United Russia so that a lot of candidates not approved (by the authorities) become State Duma deputies and members of regional legislatures,” Volkov said. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)

Authorities also jailed Andrei Pivovarov of the Open Russia opposition group financed by Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Putin critic who moved to London after spending 10 years in prison on charges widely seen as political revenge.

Vladimir Putin's Opponents Are Bowed but Not Broken as Russia Votes

  Vladimir Putin's Opponents Are Bowed but Not Broken as Russia Votes Liberal party Yabloko and the movement of Alexei Navalny hope that the opposition can make inroads on United Russia in the Duma parliamentary election.The vast majority the party has in the 450-seat Duma will continue whatever happens over the weekend, but the most high-profile opposition group, the movement of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, insists gains can be made.

Marina Litvinovich, a human rights activist and one of the few Kremlin critics allowed to run, speaks to her potential voters in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. In the months before the Sept. 19 parliamentary election in Russia, authorities unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition, making sure the best-known and loudest Kremlin critics didn’t run. “They destroyed everyone, who was at least somehow visible, as potential political players,” Litvinovich said. (AP Photo/Daniel Kozin) © Provided by Associated Press Marina Litvinovich, a human rights activist and one of the few Kremlin critics allowed to run, speaks to her potential voters in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. In the months before the Sept. 19 parliamentary election in Russia, authorities unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition, making sure the best-known and loudest Kremlin critics didn’t run. “They destroyed everyone, who was at least somehow visible, as potential political players,” Litvinovich said. (AP Photo/Daniel Kozin)

Pivovarov, who had planned run for the Duma, was removed from a Warsaw-bound plane just before takeoff from St. Petersburg and taken to the southern city of Krasnodar. He was accused of supporting a local candidate last year on behalf of an “undesirable” organization and jailed pending an investigation.

Open Russia shut down several days before Pivovarov’s arrest. In a twist, Pivovarov was allowed on the ballot of the liberal Yabloko party even though he will remain behind bars through election day. Allies say it will be next to impossible for him to win.

FILE - In this June 1, 2021, frame from video, Russian opposition activist Dmitry Gudkov gestures speaking to the media as police search at his country home outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Gudkov, was briefly arrested in June along with his aunt on fraud charges. Gudkov said he had planned to run in a Moscow district against a less-popular United Russia candidate, but authorities pushed him out of the race. (AP Photo/Daniel Kozin, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this June 1, 2021, frame from video, Russian opposition activist Dmitry Gudkov gestures speaking to the media as police search at his country home outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Gudkov, was briefly arrested in June along with his aunt on fraud charges. Gudkov said he had planned to run in a Moscow district against a less-popular United Russia candidate, but authorities pushed him out of the race. (AP Photo/Daniel Kozin, File)

“They destroyed everyone, who was at least somehow visible, as potential political players,” said Marina Litvinovich, a human rights activist and one of the few Kremlin critics running.

FILE - In this July 30, 2019, file photo, Russian opposition candidate Dmitry Gudkov speaks to journalists sitting inside a police car as he arrives to the court in Moscow, Russia. Gudkov, was briefly arrested in June along with his aunt on fraud charges. Gudkov said he had planned to run in a Moscow district against a less-popular United Russia candidate, but authorities pushed him out of the race. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this July 30, 2019, file photo, Russian opposition candidate Dmitry Gudkov speaks to journalists sitting inside a police car as he arrives to the court in Moscow, Russia. Gudkov, was briefly arrested in June along with his aunt on fraud charges. Gudkov said he had planned to run in a Moscow district against a less-popular United Russia candidate, but authorities pushed him out of the race. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

Litvinovich was a longtime member of the state Public Monitoring Commission that observes the treatment of prisoners and detainees but was removed after exposing abuses of jailed Navalny supporters. She decided to run in a Moscow district in place of Yulia Galyamina, a prominent politician who was convicted in a criminal case last year and barred from running.

Russian Elections Tainted by Reports of Ballot Stuffing, Pro-Kremlin Party to Retain Power

  Russian Elections Tainted by Reports of Ballot Stuffing, Pro-Kremlin Party to Retain Power The Chair of the Central Election Commission confirmed during a briefing that the ruling United Russia party has retained the two-thirds majority.In the elections for state parliament seats, results from nearly 99 percent of the country's polling stations gave the ruling United Russia party 49.8 percent of the vote for 225 seats apportioned by parties. For the 225 seats chosen directly by voters, United Russia candidates lead in 198 races, according to the Central Election Commission.

Litvinovich told AP it’s difficult knowing that at any moment, “you could be barred from the race, or targeted with a raid tomorrow, or become implicated in a criminal probe.”

“But we’re trying to overcome that feeling and move forward,” she said.

Navalny ally Volkov echoed her sentiment.

“It’s not a very pleasant feeling, when a giant, very heavy, very dumb elephant is galloping towards you,” he said.

Despite the crackdown, Navalny’s team still plans to deploy its Smart Voting strategy — a project to support candidates who are most likely to defeat those from United Russia. In 2019, Smart Voting helped opposition candidates win 20 of 45 seats on Moscow's city council, and regional elections last year saw United Russia lose its majority in legislatures in three cities.

Volkov said it’s been harder to promote Smart Voting, with dozens of websites blocked and people intimidated by the crackdown: Online registrations for the project soared a year ago after Navalny's poisoning, but there are fewer this year.

There have been record downloads, however, for the team's smartphone app, which is much harder for the authorities to block.

Others plan to continue advocating against voting for United Russia. Pivovarov’s allies decided to proceed with his campaign even though he jailed. Last month, they opened campaign offices in Moscow and Krasnodar, using cardboard cutouts of Pivovarov to greet supporters.

FILE - In this June 2, 2021, file photo, Andrei Pivovarov, the leader of Open Russia group financed by Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, gestures standing behind the glass during a court session in Krasnodar, Russia. Pivovarov, who had planned run for the Duma, was removed from a Warsaw-bound plane just before takeoff from St. Petersburg and taken to the southern city of Krasnodar. He was accused of supporting a local candidate last year on behalf of an “undesirable” organization and jailed pending an investigation. (AP Photo/File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this June 2, 2021, file photo, Andrei Pivovarov, the leader of Open Russia group financed by Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, gestures standing behind the glass during a court session in Krasnodar, Russia. Pivovarov, who had planned run for the Duma, was removed from a Warsaw-bound plane just before takeoff from St. Petersburg and taken to the southern city of Krasnodar. He was accused of supporting a local candidate last year on behalf of an “undesirable” organization and jailed pending an investigation. (AP Photo/File)

“For us, this campaign is a megaphone,” Pivovarov’s top ally Tatyana Usmanova told AP at the Moscow office opening last month.

“What Andrei was striving for is that as many people as possible understood that they shouldn’t vote for United Russia, that the elections are unfair. ... Now we have a legitimate opportunity to talk to people about it all.”

FILE - In this June 2, 2021, file photo, Andrei Pivovarov, the leader of Open Russia group financed by Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, stands behind the glass during a court session in Krasnodar, Russia. Pivovarov, who had planned run for the Duma, was removed from a Warsaw-bound plane just before takeoff from St. Petersburg and taken to the southern city of Krasnodar. He was accused of supporting a local candidate last year on behalf of an “undesirable” organization and jailed pending an investigation. (AP Photo/File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this June 2, 2021, file photo, Andrei Pivovarov, the leader of Open Russia group financed by Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, stands behind the glass during a court session in Krasnodar, Russia. Pivovarov, who had planned run for the Duma, was removed from a Warsaw-bound plane just before takeoff from St. Petersburg and taken to the southern city of Krasnodar. He was accused of supporting a local candidate last year on behalf of an “undesirable” organization and jailed pending an investigation. (AP Photo/File)

___

Daniel Kozin in Moscow and Tanya Titova in Kyiv, Ukraine, contributed.

Russian Elections Tainted by Reports of Ballot Stuffing, Pro-Kremlin Party to Retain Power .
The Chair of the Central Election Commission confirmed during a briefing that the ruling United Russia party has retained the two-thirds majority.In the elections for state parliament seats, results from nearly 99 percent of the country's polling stations gave the ruling United Russia party 49.8 percent of the vote for 225 seats apportioned by parties. For the 225 seats chosen directly by voters, United Russia candidates lead in 198 races, according to the Central Election Commission.

usr: 1
This is interesting!