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World Parliamentary election unlikely to change Russia's politics

10:05  16 september  2021
10:05  16 september  2021 Source:   msn.com

Russia says US companies interfering in parliamentary election

  Russia says US companies interfering in parliamentary election Russia is blaming U.S. tech companies for interfering with its parliamentary election. Russia's foreign ministry announced Friday they are calling on U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan to meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov over the claims nine days before the election is set to take place, Reuters reported. "In this regard it was stated that interference in the internal affairs of our country was absolutely unacceptable," theRussia's foreign ministry announced Friday they are calling on U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan to meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov over the claims nine days before the election is set to take place, Reuters reported.

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.

FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2021, file photo, people sit at a bus stop decorated with posters ahead of the election to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, and the local legislature in St. Petersburg, Russia. There will be three days of voting this weekend, ending on Sunday, Sept. 19, for the new parliament that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2021, file photo, people sit at a bus stop decorated with posters ahead of the election to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, and the local legislature in St. Petersburg, Russia. There will be three days of voting this weekend, ending on Sunday, Sept. 19, for the new parliament that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File) FILE - In this Aug. 22, 2021, file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with members of the United Russia party with the sign of the party in the background in Moscow, Russia. Russia is holding three days of voting for a new parliament, or State Duma, that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. There’s no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to Putin, will lose its dominance. (Mikhail Voskresensky/Sputnik, Kremlin/Pool Photo via AP, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Aug. 22, 2021, file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with members of the United Russia party with the sign of the party in the background in Moscow, Russia. Russia is holding three days of voting for a new parliament, or State Duma, that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. There’s no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to Putin, will lose its dominance. (Mikhail Voskresensky/Sputnik, Kremlin/Pool Photo via AP, File)

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 opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s Smart Voting initiative proves to be a viable strategy against it.

Russia opposition stifled but unbowed as Duma election nears

  Russia opposition stifled but unbowed as Duma election nears 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. 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. 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.

FILE - In this Aug. 24, 2021, file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the United Russia party congress with the words © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Aug. 24, 2021, file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the United Russia party congress with the words "United" in the background in Moscow, Russia. Russia is holding three days of voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. There’s no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. (Grigory Sysoev/Sputnik, Kremlin/Pool Photo via AP, File)

“There is very little intrigue in these elections … and in fact they will not leave a special trace in political history,” Andrei Kolesnikov, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, told The Associated Press.

With 14 parties fielding candidates for half of the Duma's 450 seats that are chosen by party list, the election has a veneer of being genuinely competitive. But the three parties aside from United Russia that are expected to clear the 5% support necessary to get a seat rarely challenge the Kremlin.

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.

The Kremlin wants control over the new parliament, which will still be in place in 2024, when Putin’s current term expires and he must decide on running for reelection or choosing some other strategy to stay in power.

The other half of the seats are chosen in individual constituencies, where independent candidates or those from small parties such as the liberal Yabloko may have stronger chances. These seats are also where the Navalny team’s Smart Voting strategy could make inroads.

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. Russia is holding three days of voting and there's no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. The main question is whether the party will retain its two-thirds majority that allows it to amend the constitution. Another question is whether the Smart Voting strategy devised by Navalny will prove viable against United Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File): Russia Election © Provided by Associated Press Russia Election

The program sidesteps ideology in order to undermine United Russia, simply advising voters which candidate other than the ruling party’s is the strongest in a single-mandate race.

It's essentially a defensive strategy.

“Voting to harm United Russia is not a meaningful goal, not a goal to choose another candidate whom you ideologically support,” Kolesnikov said. But it showed potency in its inaugural use in 2018 when opposition candidates won 20 of 45 seats in the Moscow city council, and a year later when United Russia lost its majorities in the councils of three large cities.

Pro-Putin ruling party seeks new majority as Russia votes

  Pro-Putin ruling party seeks new majority as Russia votes Pro-Putin ruling party seeks new majority as Russia votesMOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia goes to the polls on Friday to elect a new parliament in a three-day vote that the ruling United Russia party is expected to win despite a ratings slump after the biggest crackdown on the Kremlin's critics in years.

FILE - In this April 28, 2021, file photo, municipal workers paint over an image of Russia's imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny with the words reading © 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 with the words reading "Hero of our time" in St. Petersburg, Russia. Russia is holding three days of voting and there's no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. The main question is whether the party will retain its two-thirds majority that allows it to amend the constitution. Another question is whether the Smart Voting strategy devised by Navalny will prove viable against United Russia. (AP Photo/Valentin Egorshin, File)

However, it’s unclear how widely it will be used this year after authorities blocked access to its website. The service remains available through apps, but Russia has threatened fines against Apple and Google to remove the apps from their online stores. The Foreign Ministry last week summoned U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan to protest election interference by American “digital giants.”

Dirty tricks, clone candidates and arrests: Russia's parliamentary elections begin

  Dirty tricks, clone candidates and arrests: Russia's parliamentary elections begin A torrent of dirty tricks, manipulation and repression around Russia's parliamentary elections where Kremlin wants a convincing win for its ruling party United Russia. The veteran anti-Kremlin opposition politician is running against two men who have legally changed their names to be the same as his. They have even altered their appearances on the ballots, adopting beards to resemble him.

Blocking the website was the latest move to neutralize the Navalny operation, which was Russia’s most visible and determined opposition organization, capable of calling sizable protests throughout the country.

Navalny himself was jailed in January upon returning to Russia from Germany where he had been recuperating from nerve-agent poisoning; he was subsequently sentenced to 2½ years in prison. A court later outlawed Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and a network of his regional offices as extremist organizations, a verdict that barred people associated with the groups from seeking public office and exposed them to lengthy prison terms.

Russian authorities also blocked some 50 websites run by his team or supporters for allegedly disseminating extremist propaganda.

FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2021, file photo, Russian police detain an opposition activist with a poster reading Smart Voting during an anti-vaccination protest in the center of Moscow, Russia. Russia is holding three days of voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. It will test if the Smart Voting strategy devised by imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny will prove viable against United Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File): FILE - In this Aug. 24, 2021, file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the United Russia party congress with the words © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Aug. 24, 2021, file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the United Russia party congress with the words "United" in the background in Moscow, Russia. Russia is holding three days of voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. There’s no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma. (Grigory Sysoev/Sputnik, Kremlin/Pool Photo via AP, File)

In August, Russia added the independent vote-monitoring group Golos to its list of foreign agents, a move that does not block its work but strongly suggests it should be regarded with suspicion.

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.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose election-monitoring missions are widely regarded as authoritative, will not send observers for the parliament vote, saying that Russia imposed excessive restrictions.

In addition to the Duma election, nine Russian regions will be choosing governors, 39 regions will be choosing legislatures and voters in 11 cities will be choosing city councils.

Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, center, visits the historic Aurora cruiser, a symbol of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, during a campaign stop in St. Petersburg, Russia, ahead of the election for the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. Russia is holding three days of voting that ends on Sunday, Sept. 19, for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. The Carnegie Moscow Center's prognosis suggests that most of the seats lost by United Russia would be picked up by the Communist Party, the second-largest parliamentary faction. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky) © Provided by Associated Press Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, center, visits the historic Aurora cruiser, a symbol of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, during a campaign stop in St. Petersburg, Russia, ahead of the election for the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. Russia is holding three days of voting that ends on Sunday, Sept. 19, for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. The Carnegie Moscow Center's prognosis suggests that most of the seats lost by United Russia would be picked up by the Communist Party, the second-largest parliamentary faction. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

The Elections Commission ordered voting expanded to three days, concluding on Sunday, to reduce crowding at the polls amid the coronavirus pandemic. Critics say the decision raises the chance of ballot manipulation. Commission head Ella Pamfilova rejects the accusation, saying there will be “total video surveillance” of polling places and that ballots will be in secure containers.

Other ethical concerns also hover over the election. According to the state-funded pollster VTsIOM, more than one in 10 workers say they have been given directives by their bosses to vote. In St. Petersburg, a candidate from the Yabloko party named Boris Vishnevsky, who is running simultaneously for the Duma and a regional legislature, discovered that there are two other men using that name opposing him in each race — one of whom is a member of United Russia, according to the newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

Pro-Putin party takes majority in Russian election sullied by fraud

  Pro-Putin party takes majority in Russian election sullied by fraud Pro Kremlin ruling party wins majority in parliamentary elections amid opposition claims of widespread ballot fraud. With virtually all ballots counted, Russia’s election’s commission said United Russia had taken nearly 50% of the vote and won nearly 90% of first-past-the-post districts, meaning the party will retain its two-thirds majority in the lower house of parliament, which allows it to change Russia’s constitution.

Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, center in red, and other party activists march along a street in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, during a campaign event ahead of the election for the State Duma, the lower house of parliament. Russia is holding three days of voting, ending on Sunday, Sept. 19, for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. The Carnegie Moscow Center's prognosis suggests that most of the seats lost by United Russia would be picked up by the Communist Party, the second-largest parliamentary faction. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) © Provided by Associated Press Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, center in red, and other party activists march along a street in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, during a campaign event ahead of the election for the State Duma, the lower house of parliament. Russia is holding three days of voting, ending on Sunday, Sept. 19, for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. The Carnegie Moscow Center's prognosis suggests that most of the seats lost by United Russia would be picked up by the Communist Party, the second-largest parliamentary faction. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Although polls indicate that general approval for United Russia is low, the party is expected to ride to an overwhelming first place in the new parliament. The independent Center for Current Politics predicts it will score 299-306 seats — down from the 343 it currently holds but within the range of the 303 seats needed to change the constitution.

People walk past an election poster in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, ahead of the upcoming election for the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. The poster, from left, shows Denis Protsenko, head of the educational foundation © Provided by Associated Press People walk past an election poster in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, ahead of the upcoming election for the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. The poster, from left, shows Denis Protsenko, head of the educational foundation "Talent and Success"; Yelena Shmeleva; Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu; children's rights ombudsman Anna Kuznetsova; and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, candidates of the pro-Kremlin United Russia Party during the campaign. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

The center’s prognosis suggests that most of the seats lost by United Russia would be picked up by the Communist Party, the second-largest parliamentary faction. But the party largely conforms to the Kremlin line, as do the two other parties likely to get double-digit seats.

Pro-Kremlin Party Loses 19 Seats in Election, Retains Majority to Change Constitution

  Pro-Kremlin Party Loses 19 Seats in Election, Retains Majority to Change Constitution The parliamentary election excluded most opposition politicians from seeking seats after authorities cracked down on Kremlin critics.Keeping the parliamentary majority was seen as critical for Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the next presidential election in 2024. The newly-chosen Duma will still be in office when Putin will face the decision of running for reelection or looking for other means of staying in power, the AP reported. For either route, maintaining a parliament largely made up of pro-Kremlin politicians can be crucial for Putin, analysts and Kremlin critics have said.

People walk past a campaign stand in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, for Andrei Pivovarov, an opposition activist who was jailed earlier this year but is allowed to run in the upcoming election for the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. Russia is holding three days of voting, ending Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) © Provided by Associated Press People walk past a campaign stand in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, for Andrei Pivovarov, an opposition activist who was jailed earlier this year but is allowed to run in the upcoming election for the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. Russia is holding three days of voting, ending Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

“The Communists themselves are not very dangerous,” said commentator Sergei Parkhomenko on Ekho Moskvy radio. The party is “a tool for imitating an opposition movement.”

Boris Vishnevsky of the Yabloko party who is running for both the State Duma and the regional legislature in St. Petersburg, Russia, speakes to journalists on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. Vishnevsky discovered that there are two other men running in both races under the same name as him. One of his opponents is from the ruling United Russia party, according to the newspaper Novaya Gazeta. (AP Photo/Ivan Petrov) © Provided by Associated Press Boris Vishnevsky of the Yabloko party who is running for both the State Duma and the regional legislature in St. Petersburg, Russia, speakes to journalists on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. Vishnevsky discovered that there are two other men running in both races under the same name as him. One of his opponents is from the ruling United Russia party, according to the newspaper Novaya Gazeta. (AP Photo/Ivan Petrov)

Allegations of widespread voting fraud sparked large protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg after the 2011 Duma elections. But with opposition groups neutered, the prospect of unrest this time appears remote.

An election billboard of the United Russia party calling for a vote is displayed in the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Russia is holding three days of voting this weekend for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. (AP Photo/Alexander Khitrov) © Provided by Associated Press An election billboard of the United Russia party calling for a vote is displayed in the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Russia is holding three days of voting this weekend for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. (AP Photo/Alexander Khitrov)

“Protests will not take place where we expect them, not at the time when we expect them and not from those from whom we expect them,” Parkhomenko said.

___

Olga Tregubova in Moscow contributed.

Pro-Kremlin Party Loses 19 Seats in Election, Retains Majority to Change Constitution .
The parliamentary election excluded most opposition politicians from seeking seats after authorities cracked down on Kremlin critics.Keeping the parliamentary majority was seen as critical for Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the next presidential election in 2024. The newly-chosen Duma will still be in office when Putin will face the decision of running for reelection or looking for other means of staying in power, the AP reported. For either route, maintaining a parliament largely made up of pro-Kremlin politicians can be crucial for Putin, analysts and Kremlin critics have said.

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