25 thoughts on “Russian local elections”

  1. Pretty decent analytical article, Professor. Russian pundits are also predicting that the Russian Communist Party may achieve some incremental gains in the regions, thanks for Mr. Navalny’s “Smart Voting” idea.

    On the commentariat front, I noticed that the comments to your RT article are not as toxic as usual, some of the comments actually good.
    There is one guy who starts to go off on “globalists” and then gets cut off with the “(Edited)” moniker, so I’m guessing he started to rail against the Jews.

    Personally, I don’t agree with RT’s policy of “editing” comments. I think either they let the whole thing stand or, if it’s so racist that it violates their policy, then just delete the whole damn thing. Either/or. I don’t see the point of removing individual sentences! As a blogger, do you have an opinion on that?


    1. I am not allowed to comment on RT anymore, either I get the message about community standards or I post and the posts just vanish. Happened after I slammed some of the most toxic anti-semitic posters (rather mildly, as strong language is not supported by the site) and kept receiving the standards message.
      After such one I had enough and sent an email to the outsourced “monitors” and told them they were all idiots and had an obvious preference for anti Semites while cutting off those critical of this trend. That was I guess the final straw….


      1. peter, that is certainly not fair-dealing, since your comments all seem appropriate and civilized. I thought maybe of it was the other way, that they edit out the most egregious Jew-hating (I personally prefer that term to “anti-Semite”) stuff, like, as soon as Uncle Grumpy at the dinner table starts on about the “globalizers”, you sort of know where this conversation is headed….. sigh.
        Anyhow, I have no idea what goes on in these RT moderators heads, but it seems pretty clear from the content itself (with some exceptions, including the Professor’s) that RT prefers kreakles for their Russia coverage; and fringe ALT-Righties for their America coverage. Their content don’t usually go after Jews, but I notice they continuously sling libels at African-Americans, and have also become the sounding-board for the most radical Covid-deniers and the like.

        (Which is also a conversation, because I agree some covid-skepticism is warranted, but not the extreme voices they feature, who even question the efficacy of surgical paper masks in reducing virus penetration into face-holes. Next thing they will telling people you don’t have to wash your hands after using the restroom. Florence Nightingale would be rolling in her grave!)

        Sorry, didn’t mean to rant…


    2. I have a comment as a mod of a moderately large forum – SyrianCivilWar subreddit. While we don’t have tools to censor comments partially, and in *most* cases rule-breaking comments have no redeeming qualities and have to be deleted, sometimes the offense is not bad enough to earn a ban and the comment does have value otherwise. In those cases we tell the commenter that, besides the warning they get in any case, the comment would be re-approved if they delete the offending part.

      It is irrelevant to racism though – *that* will earn a lengthy (or permanent) ban right away!


      1. Thanks, Aule! I like that notion of a comment having “redeeming qualities” and allowing the offender to re-submit. It’s probably for their own good too. They might have one good point, but people will get turned off by their nasty demeanor. On the other hand, it’s a very tricky business being a judge, like trying to decide what is porn and what is nude art.

        As Griboedov famously wrote: А судьи кто?

        I have not had to face this issue on my blog (well, honestly, I don’t get that many comments), but I worry about it sometimes, what would I do?


      2. Interesting how some comments sections don’t get as much play as others for reasons not always relating to the number of hits at a site. Among my favorites:



        Can be informal, but respectful enough in a way that offers different and valid perspectives. From such exchanges, a reasonably objective review can determine who has and doesn’t have quality input for a truly high profile standing. Thinking of you Fareed Zakaria with your top heavy emphasis on the likes of Richard Haass, Tom Friedman and Anne Marie Slaughter.

        A good number of articles can take the form of a comments section. Regarding Carla Robbins and the CFR:



    3. Oh, don’t I know it. Even something as minor as judging a comment to be removed and handing a 3-day ban can be agonizing to decide. Is it fair? How long did I ban for in similar cases before? What about other mods?

      Our team handles the “А судьи кто?” issue mainly through diversity. We got supporters of every major faction in the war on the team (except ISIS & AQ, but we do have an Islamist). If one mod handles unfair and bias-motivated punishment, a mod with a different bias can roll it back and cry foul in the mod chat in particularly bad cases. Given how *many* factions are there, an overall bias for any single one would be overruled – so it basically never happens.

      Well, that is a solution obviously unsuitable for individual blogs though.


    4. It’s very, very rare that I have to take action against a comment on this blog, though there have been a few occasions of borderline anti-Semitism and unnecessary gratuitous insulting of fellow commentators. In such cases, I’ve deleted the entire post. Nobody has ever been banned.


      1. “unnecessary gratuitous insulting of fellow commentators”

        What about necessary calling out of the pro-Nazis for who they are?


      2. Something I’ve noted in the spirit of being constructively critical.

        A just posted comment of mine here didn’t go anywhere, as in not getting posted, or a message that it’s in moderation.


    5. I prefer deletion to editing, but prefer warnings and letting comments stand (when possible) even more. The last thing anyone needs is another site with an opaque and ideologically-motivated comment moderation system.

      Thankfully, my blog’s commentariat has been awesome, and I’ve never had to delete a comment for violating policy.


  2. [Sigh]

    “Those hoping for liberal politicians to make gains in this weekend’s Russian local elections are set to be disappointed.”

    Some people prefer to start with a joke. You, Professor, chose to attack a strawman with a banality. Uhm, the effect is different, you know that?

    Actually, I almost decided against commenting on that. Almost. After all, you’ve been behaving so admiringly after posting your piece and then keeping your silence… for some time.

    But – here you again, Professor.


    In the great vastness/wasteland which is Internet, I’ve encountered a short succinct recommendation primarily aimed at ladies with rather low sense of the social responsibility. Understanding full well, that IRUSSIONALITY is a blog of high culture, proper behavior(u)r and stellar high moral standards, I decided to modify this advise slightly and then present it as a free advice for the benefit of the “community” of the so-called Russia-watchers.

    Dear so-called Russia watchers! More often than not, you are completely out of your depth when it comes to all things Russia related. By being considered experts in some spheres, it doesn’t automatically translate in you being proficient in all others. You are not (anymore?) insiders to the arcane and profane process that rule Russia and the Russians – otherwise you wouldn’t be dispensing your “revelations” for free here in the global Via Cloaca which is internet.

    So, dear so-called Russia-watchers! When next you gonna feel overpowering urge to exercise your liberal rights given option to engage in extensive logorrghea (aka “write an opinion post”) on something, in which you are not really qualified, I suggest the following course of action:

    1) Take a deeeeeeep breath.
    2) Switch on the audio record option on your device ON.
    3) Sang lustily, sincerely, from the depth of your soul, the Ukrainian anthem.
    4) Post the result on-line.

    If you have a good voice, then a “5-minute of Net Fame” is guaranteed to you. Expect lots of visits, clicks and dozens of “дякуемо!” or even “весь свїт з нами!” from for the dignity deficient re-awakened politically active EuroUkrs, who constantly stalk Russia themed publics and comment sections … food.

    If you lack the musical talent whatsoever – even better! First – people gonna laugh. Second – they will be perplexed, as to what possessed you post a record of your rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem of all things! Third – there will be enough speculations, conspiracy theories and off-topic discussions the keep the comment section going for at least 3 days. Finally, the dignity deficient re-awakened politically active EuroUkrs, who constantly stalk Russia themed publics and comment section will come and post their “дякуемо!” or even “весь свїт з нами!” irregardless of your vocal performance.

    Because that’s what really matters, right? Hype, clicks and traffic, generated by content of varying quality. As this is your/any so-called “Russia-wathcer” ultimate goal, do something fun about it, instead of posting banal generalities and arse-covering vagueness to the point of your “opinion pieces” being totally useless.


    1. 1) UCL is crap.

      2) Everyone who resorts to transliterated “sistema” (rus. for “system”) as some kind of “silver-bullet-explain-it-all” term for the “Regime/Kremlin/Putinism” is a lazy dishonest hack and bottomfeeder.


      1. Thanks, short and sweet…any really good analysis of the system of governance in present day Russia available?

        I read Helmer frequently, of course this blog here, G. Doctorow’s writings, Stephen Cohen, Ray McGovern but I am looking for some more fundamental analysis.


      2. “any really good analysis of the system of governance in present day Russia available?”

        Depends on why you need that kind of knowledge. Business deals? Develop ties with the influential locals and even “insiders”. Common interest? No good recommendations here, sorry ;). Each and everyone is bad in its very own way. Whatever you gonna find in the Net – if its free, its mostly useless.

        Want a really short answer from some local Russian (i.e. – me) about our “system of governance”? It’s really, really weak by the Western standards. Or, by out standards, the Western system is too totalitarian. Old adage attributed to Karamzin, that “the severity of Russian laws is mitigated by the seldomness of their enforcement” is both true and, again, from a purely Russian perspective, not a bug, but a feature.

        P.S. Oh, and drop Monsieur Gilbert Doctorow from your list. He is no longer an “insider” (if he ever was one), plus, as it turned out, not a very informed person. E.g., up to this year, had no idea, that Russia’s State Duma does not form the Cabinet. He was equally at a loss, what was the Immortal Regiment was all about. Add to this his religius following of the international realism, and you have a person with deep-rooted biases preventing any kind of honest evaluation or reporting. He calls himself “a friend of Russia”. In truth, he’s (literally) an old lackey of the international capital ™ still in search for a deal and relevance for himself.

        P.P.S. Okay, okay! You and the rest deserve some kind of answer as to “How Russia is governed”. For that I can only offer what’s been already said by one particular German statesman:

        “The Russian state has the following advantage over other [states] – that it is governed directly by the Lord God Himself. Otherwise, it is impossible to explain how it exists”
        – General-fieldmarshal Burkhard Christoph von Münnich aka Khristofor Antonovich Minikh

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Early results are looking good for United Russia. Seems like they’ll win the governorship of Irkutsk by a big margin, and come well on top in Novosibirsk, which was the key focus of Navalny’s ‘smart voting’ campaign. It looks like the latter might be a big bust. I’ll do a full post when we have more comprehensive results.


    1. And what “Der Spiegel” reports… (used pons text translation)

      “More than 1000 reports of possible violations have already been received, said the co-chairman of the independent election observation group Golos, Grigori Melkonjanz, the radio station Echo Moskvy in Moscow. ” These include cases of deliberate election falsification. ”

      Election observers have reported disability of their work, said Melkonjants. Violence was also used. ” There are reports of forced elections and bribery from many regions. ” Some polling stations were already open on Friday. According to their own statements, the authorities wanted to reduce the risk of infection with the coronavirus. Critics, however, feared manipulation because it was difficult to control the election for three days.

      The regional election is regarded as an important mood test – also for the parliamentary election next year. Due to the Corona crisis, unemployment has risen massively in the largest country in the world in terms of area. Experts spoke of great dissatisfaction in the country. The vote is also influenced by Navalny’s poisoning, which has been dealt with in Berlin for three weeks.


      1. Der Spiegel has become one of the foremost anti Russian and especially anti Putin voices in Germany, far from the “liberal” paper that I used to read frequently till the 1990s, were it seems to be less beholden to the American overlords and actually was quite critical of the US politics, especially during the Vietnam war years. (that dates me quite well).

        It is a paper that I now infrequently keep reading because of its propaganda efforts which at time elicit quite some hilarity. Strictly anti Trump to explicitly speaking for the Democratic Party and its present doddering candidate, and quite taken with the interventionist efforts as long as they are undertaken by a Democratic president.


      2. German media at large (DW and ARD) seem to be in that direction.

        Al Jazeera is a better although influenced version of much of Anglo-American TV media. Its roughly half hour “Inside Story” show, is typically stacked 3 (moderator included) to 1 against the pro-Russian leaning perspective.


      3. I would not believe anything Der Spiegel says, they are such a bunch of conscious liars. If they wrote that swans were birds, I would not believe them.
        Russian voters influenced by Navalny poisioning? hahahaha, that’s the funniest thing, ever.
        Also, if they want to complain about unemployment figures due to covid, then they should look at the U.S.
        At least Russia is considering passing a UBI (Universal Basic Income) law, to keep from developing a legacy underclass. This could never happen in America, due to the corruption of the 2 parties, plus systemic racism; plus the fact that America is fascist oligarchy, just sayin’… but you will never read these facts in Spiegel.


      4. Her an article by Mr .Andre Vltchek who speaks to the generally “we know what you are about” attitude.

        “We were always told what to think; what is correct and what is wrong. By the white dudes living in or coming from Europe and North America. They knew everything. They were the most qualified.

        When I write “white,” I don’t mean just their race or color of their skin. To me, “white” is their culture, where they belong. Yes, their identity.

        We Russians, Cubans, Venezuelans, Chinese, Iranians, Turks are not really “white,” even if our color of the skin is. Not that we are dying to be white, really! We have our own way of living and thinking, and most of us are on the side of the oppressed, of the ‘wretched of the world,’ intuitively. For centuries, our nations have been plundered and attacked. Millions of our people vanished during invasions, genocides, like those in Africa and all other parts of the ‘non-white’ world……………

        The West, intellectually and morally confused and corrupt, has not been able to analyze, to think rationally. It is thoroughly brainwashed. That applies to both writers and the readers. It needs, it cannot live without “familiar faces,” without familiar lines of thought.

        Despite its confusion, it insists on talking. It demands to be listened to.

        It is unable to learn from the others. It only knows how to dictate; how to preach.”


    2. “Novosibirsk, which was the key focus of Navalny’s ‘smart voting’ campaign. It looks like the latter might be a big bust”

      Professor, who told you that “smart voting” was ever effective? Whoever it was – spit in their shameless lying eyes!

      Even by the best, most charitable estimates, “SV” might perhaps boost given candidate by 7% – no more. That’s raraly enough to overcome EdRo favorite especiall when (perfectly legally!) the admin rersource is demployed.

      As for writing a second part – do better this time. Like – stop listening to liberast sources, which you then dutifully retranslate (aka – “propagate”). Or admitt, that you have no idea whatsoever, neither any secret insider knowledge and just… sing the Ukrainian anthem!


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