Two primaries

May was primary season in Russia. For the first time, some Russian political parties have adopted the American practice of holding primary votes to select their candidates for the forthcoming general election. The idea, supposedly, is to involve citizens more deeply in the democratic process, and to ensure that candidates have popular support and are not just the appointees of party leaders. So, how has it worked out?

For the country’s ruling United Russia party, the answer is pretty well. About 10 million people are said to have participated in the party’s primaries. The party’s opponents have since claimed that the votes were nothing more than a ‘PR stunt’ involving considerable electoral fraud in order to ensure that the leadership’s preferred candidates won. But in fact, the primaries produced a number of upsets. Unofficial results suggest that about 50 serving MPs lost their elections, most notably the Chairman of the Duma Committee on international Affairs Alexei Pushkov, who was standing to be the United Russia candidate for the Perm region. Candidates from the All Russian Popular Front, a collection of non-governmental organizations, are said to have fared particularly well, suggesting that the primaries have provided civil society with an opportunity to make its voice heard in the political process. The think tank Rethinking Russia thus concludes that the voting ‘was undoubtedly a success.’

By contrast, the primaries for the liberal opposition party PARNAS were a farce. As RT reports:

The file containing logins and passwords of everyone who had taken part in the primaries was posted on the PARNAS website on Sunday afternoon. The data was real and allowed anyone to see full details of any voter – including name, emails and phone numbers, as well as the people they voted for.

In consequence, PARNAS has had to suspend all voting. Well known blogger, and one-time PARNAS collaborator, Aleksei Navalny urged the party’s leader Mikhail Kasyanov to resign, and prominent party member Ilya Yashin pointed the finger at Kasyanov’s one time mistress Natalia Pelevina, saying that the leak came from within the party and ‘I have a lot of questions for that woman.’ The scandal has worsened the already great divisions in the liberal camp.

Perhaps even more embarrassing for PARNAS than the leak of personal information was the revelation of the total number of voters – about 4,000. The contrast with the 10 million for United Russia could hardly be more striking.

8 thoughts on “Two primaries”

    1. As I keep saying – “Kremlin has many towers”. There are Shoigu and Lavrov – and then there are state liberals from the “economic block”, whom the people really, truly, PASSIONATELY hate. Oh, and Dima “The Jolly Gnome” Medvedev.

      The expressions “Czar is kind, boyars are evil” is not based on the false dichotomy – it was often the case in history, when the top-level elites were more prone to bicker and sabotage each other efforts, while the monarch had to draw the supposrt from lower classes.


  1. “about 50 serving MPs lost their elections, most notably the Chairman of the Duma Committee on international Affairs Alexei Pushkov”

    Meh. He already has a TV program to host – he will be just fine.

    What is more interesting in another personality who failed to get elected on EdRo primaries – a true Russian liberal (serial political turncoat) Boris Borisovich Nadezhdin. A man, who for his entire life was saying (publicly and on TV – oh, “Kremlin controlled” ™ just likes to allow liberals like him to humiliate themselves on air!) that:

    > Dissolution of the USSR was good.
    > Gaidar reforms were super-plus-good.
    > 90s were the Golden Age of Freedom.
    > Let’s surrender to the Western pressure, shall we?
    > Russia shouldn’t have any substantial foreign policy.

    So, after a stint in various liberal parties, B.B had a swell idea – “Hey! EdRo is the most powerful party that will get elected anyway. Why can’t I turn my coat just one more time and get into State Duma as the UR candidate?!”.

    And he tried. But, because Russian civil society is not what most Westerners presume by that, people remembered all Nadezhdin’s “pearls of wisdom”. He lost. In his own hometown. After which he turned his coat ONCE AGAIN and now entered the “Growth Party”, former “Right Cause” kickstarted by oligarch Prokhorov.

    “By contrast, the primaries for the liberal opposition party PARNAS were a farce”

    Here is my expose of this whole mess.

    It was not a farce. It was, pardon me, a coital shame. Navalniy already voiced a conspiracy theory that this leak “might” have been intentional, so that now Kasyanov can appoint his loyalists as candidates forgoing any primaries.

    By the moment of the leak it the leading candidate was anti-semitic nationalist blogger. I await with trepidation when Kasyanov (and then Free and Independent Western Press ™) directly accuses Kremlin of screwing him over one more time.

    “Ilya Yashin pointed the finger at Kasyanov’s one time mistress Natalia Pelevina”

    Oh-ho-ho! I’d say… more than *one* time. She is a… walker (wink-wink, nudge-nudge).


    1. Ah, Nadezhdin. Nadezhdin is on every (I swear) talk show. He’s usually playing a concern-troll: ‘so much is being spent on weapons, which is good, but, alas, so many people are poor… Perhaps it could’ve been spent better…’

      Recently, close to the elections, he noticeably changed the tune, concentrating on the greatness of the Russian people and stuff like that, but too late I see… Oh well…


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