The parliamentary elections in Russia (2021)

From the editorial board. This note was prepared for communication with foreign comrades at The Communist Youth of Greece (KNE), as well as for exchanging views with representatives of various leftist organizations in Europe. We believe that this text can be useful for targeted propaganda and our supporters.

The parliamentary elections held in Russia are assessed by us as a falsification, which has nothing to do with the people’s will. The following facts force us to come to this conclusion:

1) The legislation on elections in Russia is structured in such a way that allows the authorities to easily filter out unwanted parties and individual candidates. For example, in 2018-19, our ROT FRONT party faced widespread blocking of candidates in regional elections, and in 2020 it was deprived of registration (and, therefore, the right to participate in elections) due to “non-participation” in the elections. Before the current parliamentary elections, the authorities blocked the participation of Pavel Grudinin, who in 2018 was a presidential candidate from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), and is now trying to run for parliament from the CPRF. Thus, from the very beginning, only those parties and candidates who are admitted by the authorities can participate in the elections.

2) During the pre-election period, different political forces have deliberately unequal conditions for conducting propaganda. The ruling party (“United Russia”) has the ability to make extensive use of the federal mass media, as well as the “administrative resource”, i.e. structure of state power. For example, public sector workers are often forced to vote for the ruling party under threat of dismissal. Another example is political propaganda in educational institutions; it is prohibited by law, but the government still enforces it. Other political parties lack expanded propaganda opportunities and often face additional legislative obstacles. In particular, all propaganda materials are censored by government officials.

3) The so-called electronic voting was widely used in parliamentary elections. This means that the voter must register on a special website and vote via the Internet. Electronic voting greatly facilitates falsification, since, firstly, it is completely controlled by the government. The participation of observers from other political parties in electronic voting is not provided for and is technically impossible. Second, electronic voting deprives voters of anonymity. Voters are registered using their passport data, which allows the authorities to exert pressure on them. There have been numerous cases of officials demanding public sector workers to provide them with credentials from an e-voting portal. Apparently, hundreds of thousands or even millions of votes cast via electronic voting are faked.

4) In addition to the above, it should be recalled that all the current parliamentary parties in Russia are controlled and governed by the government. Parliamentary parties depend on government funding, which is regulated through parliament by the ruling party. For example, 89% of the revenue side of the CPRF budget in 2018 consisted of subsidies received from the state budget. “United Russia” at any time can raise the issue of revising the financing of parties and thereby bring down their activities. In a political sense, parliamentary parties have also long since become branches of “United Russia”. For example, the leader of the CPRF, Gennady Zyuganov, completely avoids criticism of Vladimir Putin; on the contrary, Zyuganov called Putin “the sovereign” and said: “It is salutary for all of us to fulfill the President’s instructions.”

In total, the parliamentary elections have nothing to do with the real expression of the will of the population of Russia. The voting results were generated by the Russian authorities themselves (the internal policy department of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation). The slight increase in the results of the CPRF and the drop in the results of “United Russia” in comparison with the previous elections is an action planned by the authorities with very specific political goals. By showing the population a slight increase in the results of the CPRF, the authorities expect to strengthen the shaken faith in the elections among the people. It is no secret that a huge part of the Russian worker people has long ignored the elections, rightly considering them a fake procedure that does not in any way affect their lives. These sentiments are dangerous for the authorities since in the future they threaten to lead to the development of non-parliamentary methods of struggle. Consequently, it is sometimes necessary to “throw the bone” to the population – to show them the small and meaningless “successes” of the main opposition party.

P.S. Immediately after the parliamentary elections, the authorities began repressions against the opposition, including the CPRF. Several regional deputies were arrested. On September 28, the police came to the reception of the Deputy Speaker of the State Duma, Deputy Chairman of the CPRF Ivan Melnikov. We assume that the CPRF will be unable to respond to these repressions (for example, to mobilize its supporters) since it has long been under the control of the capital. Consequently, these repressions are a new step in transforming the political system of Russia towards an open dictatorship of the capital, in which the need for a parliamentary “opposition” will gradually disappear.