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A man looks at a screen showing polling stations at the headquarters of Russia's Central Election Commission in Moscow on Sept. 19. (Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters, File Photo)

Electoral precinct 40, located in a charming historic area a few minutes’ walking distance from the Kremlin, is among the few in Moscow that can be trusted to count votes honestly. Ever since I first voted here at the age of 18, the official tallies have always reflected the actual votes cast. In Moscow’s 2013 mayoral election, the candidate who won the precinct was anticorruption campaigner and opposition activist Alexei Navalny. Local Muscovite pride may be one factor in this honesty; the presence of independent electoral commission members in the precinct may be another.

So when I came to vote here on Sunday, and then stayed overnight to observe the count, I was certain that I would get a glimpse of the real sentiments of Russian voters.…  Seguir leyendo »

Screens display voting results at the Information Center in the Russian Central Election Commission following the country's 2021 legislative election. Photo by Vladimir Gerdo\TASS via Getty Images.

What is being claimed by Russia’s political leadership as an honest and overwhelming victory masks clear manipulation, as well as challenges presented by opposition forces in the country. And yet the flagrant rigging of results is more likely to lead to further opposition despondency than mass protests.

Although elections took place at local, regional, and national levels in Russia, it was elections to the State Duma – the lower chamber of the national parliament – which were the main event as the first national-level elections since a marked decline in Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings following deeply unpopular pension reforms in 2018.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Public Election Monitoring Center at Moscow's Expocenter Exhibition Complex. Photo by Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images.

Edmund Burke warned prophetically in 1790 that the French Revolution would – by destroying the working of the country’s constitutional institutions – leave it with no law but the will of a prevailing force, and that a state without adequate means of managing due change would lack the means of preserving itself (1).

The Russian elections, to be concluded on 19 September, fit an established Putin regime pattern which is designed to reduce the independent authority of the country’s institutions to a fiction in favour of authoritarian rule as it moves towards the presidential elections of 2024 – thereby further diminishing Russia’s chances of managed evolutionary change in the future.…  Seguir leyendo »

Figura 3. La población de Rusia por edad y sexo, a 1/I/2020 (millones). Fuente: Naciones Unidas (2019), “World Population Prospects”.

Tema

Del 17 al 19 de septiembre se celebrarán en Rusia elecciones generales y la pregunta clave es si el resultado llevará a una posible transformación política del país.

Resumen

Del 17 al 19 de septiembre se celebrarán en Rusia elecciones generales, las octavas desde la desintegración de la Unión Soviética. La pregunta clave de las elecciones parlamentarias rusas no es qué partido ganará los comicios: Rusia Unida renovará su dominio de la Duma con una mayoría simple o absoluta. Los principales objetivos del Kremlin son obtener la victoria de dicho partido (a pesar de que su popularidad está en mínimos históricos de un 27%), conservar su statu quo dominante en el sistema político ruso y abrir el camino hacia la reelección de Vladimir Putin en las elecciones presidenciales de 2024.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny sits in a cage during a hearing Feb. 12 on his charges of defamation in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow. (Babuskinsky District Court Press Service via AP) (AP)

Over the past week, Russia’s political parties have been submitting nomination papers for their candidates in September’s parliamentary election. In some cases, gathering the documents has proved more difficult than in others.

One such case involves Yabloko, the last (genuine) opposition party that still retains ballot access — a relic of Russia’s brief stint with democracy in the 1990s. Its list of candidates for the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, includes Andrei Pivovarov, an opposition activist held in pretrial detention and facing up to six years in prison on a charge of belonging to an “undesirable organization” (in his case, the now-defunct Open Russia, founded by exiled Putin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky).…  Seguir leyendo »

Andrei Pivovarov, the former head of the Open Russia movement, during a court session in Krasnodar, Russia, on June 2. (AP)

Russia’s parliamentary election campaign officially starts in mid-June. Yet the Kremlin made its first move this week by arresting two prominent opposition candidates who were expected to pose a significant challenge to Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

On Monday evening, security operatives intercepted a Warsaw-bound Polish passenger plane as it was about to take off from the runway at St. Petersburg’s international airport. After climbing onboard, they approached a passenger, told him that he was being detained on a “search warrant” (even thought he had just cleared customs and border control) and led him away. The operation echoed the recent scandal in Belarus, when Alexander Lukashenko’s security services effectively hijacked an E.U.…  Seguir leyendo »

As Russia approaches the parliamentary election scheduled for Sept. 19, 2021, the Kremlin is increasingly worried about a repeat of the public humiliation it suffered in last year’s election in the city of Moscow. Many of the ruling United Russia party’s candidates lost to political no-names — spoilers or technical candidates from smaller registered parties — even after real opponents were disqualified from the ballot. Gone are the days when Vladimir Putin’s regime could ensure the dominance of its party through traditional methods such as the coercion of state employees, control over the media or the removal of opposition candidates.

All those methods are still there — but they no longer seem to work.…  Seguir leyendo »

This time four years ago, officials in Moscow were preparing -- along with the rest of the world -- for what appeared to be inevitable: a Hillary Clinton presidency. It was a grim prospect for Russian President Vladimir Putin at a time Russia was overwhelmed by a string of scandals.

That summer, the world had learned about the massive state-sponsored doping program in Russian sport. In September, a Dutch-led international investigation found that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, shot down while flying over Ukraine, had been downed by a Russian missile, killing all 298 on board. Around the same time, Russia launched a brutal bombing campaign on the Syrian city of Aleppo, killing hundreds of civilians and devastating the city.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ksenia Fadeyeva, who won a seat on the city council in Tomsk, Russia, on Sunday, is seen next to one of her campaign posters in the Siberian city last month. (Andrei Fateyev/AP)

On Aug. 19, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was meeting with local activists in the Siberian city of Tomsk. “Someone asked him the traditional question why he had not been arrested or murdered,” recalls one of those present, referring to the fates often suffered by Kremlin opponents. “He made a joke in response, as usual. The next day, there was no room for jokes.”

The next day, as the whole world now knows, Navalny collapsed from poisoning on a plane back to Moscow. The cause, according to German medical experts, was a nerve agent closely related to the Novichok substance used in the attack against former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain in 2018.…  Seguir leyendo »

Fresh allegations of Russian meddling in the upcoming US Presidential election shine a harsh spotlight on the dangerous deadlock between the nuclear-tipped powers. In a reprise of 2016, Moscow is apparently pushing hard for Donald Trump to win the White House. But is a Trump second term really in the Kremlin's best interest? Or would a Joe Biden win actually be the more pragmatic outcome for Russia?

On the surface, a stable Biden presidency, including a strong, no-nonsense Vice President Kamala Harris, would seem unpalatable to Moscow. Biden is well-acquainted with Russian President Vladimir Putin from before and during his tenure as vice president in the Obama administration.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with winners of the Leaders of Russia contest via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Tuesday. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AP)

On Sunday, Russia will hold regional elections. Voters will cast ballots in some 9,000 races in 83 regions, with everything from elections to fill national legislature vacancies to elections for regional governors and municipal councils.

According to the respected Russian election monitoring group Golos, these elections are likely to be a sham. Even the Communists, a tame, officially recognized opposition party, have not been allowed to register candidates in seven of the 18 governor’s races. Real independent candidates have found it harder than ever to get on the ballot.

Since the beginning, the Putin system has been built on twin pillars.…  Seguir leyendo »

A banner reading 'No capitulation!' is unfurled above the entrance to the city hall in Kyiv as part of protests against implementation of the so-called Steinmeier Formula. Photo: Getty Images.

In 2016, the then-German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, suggested a way around the impasse in east Ukraine.

He proposed that elections in the areas held by Russian-backed insurgents – the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (DNR) and the ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ (LNR) – could be held under Ukrainian legislation, with Kyiv adopting a temporary law on ‘special status’, the main disagreement between Russia and Ukraine in the Minsk Agreements. This law would become permanent once the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had declared that elections correspond with OSCE standards.

The reaction in Ukraine was strongly negative. The so-called Steinmeier Formula contradicted Kyiv’s position that elections in the occupied Donbas should only go ahead in a secure environment – requiring the prior withdrawal of Russian forces and the return of the eastern border to Ukraine’s control.…  Seguir leyendo »

Putin’s Nightmare: The Ballot Box

On Sept. 8, Russians will vote in municipal and regional elections, and the authorities are afraid. Not of any foreign power’s interference in Russia’s elections — there have been no fair elections in decades — but of Russia’s own people and opposition candidates, who are far more popular than the official nominees.

Moscow’s old bag of electoral tricks survives — for example, moving elections from December to early September so that summer vacations would leave challengers little time to organize. The authorities have resorted to new tricks too, like clogging the electoral system with fake candidates and putting party loyalists on the ballot as independent candidates.…  Seguir leyendo »

What We Now Know About Russian Disinformation

The Russian disinformation operations that affected the 2016 United States presidential election are by no means over. Indeed, as two new reports produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee make clear, Russian interference through social media — contrary to the suggestion of many prominent tech executives — is a chronic, widespread and identifiable condition that we must now aggressively manage.

The Senate committee asked two research teams, one of which I led, to investigate the full scope of the recent multiyear Russian operation to influence American opinion executed by a company called the Internet Research Agency. The Senate provided us with data attributed to the agency’s operations given to the Senate by Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet (Google’s parent company), companies whose platforms were manipulated for that purpose.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Vladimir Putin of Russia speaking at a youth forum in Moscow this month. Credit Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin

The presidential election in Russia a week ago resulted in an impressive, if unsurprising, victory for Vladimir Putin. He was elected to a fourth term with a wide margin and high turnout in a vote that appeared to be the cleanest in Russia’s recent history (at least when it comes to what happened on Election Day itself).

But this election was about more than just reinstalling Mr. Putin in the Kremlin. It signaled the beginning of post-Putin Russia. Because while the president has gained popular support for policies like annexing Crimea and confronting the West, the legitimacy of his next term will be determined by his success in reassuring ordinary Russians that his regime will endure even when he is no longer in the Kremlin.…  Seguir leyendo »

Durante los primeros años de su presidencia a comienzos de este siglo, Vladimir Putin era una isla prooccidental en un mar de élites rusas antioccidentales. Como observé en aquel momento, su deseo de “anclar firmemente Rusia a Occidente” contrastaba claramente con las nociones de seguridad tradicionales del país. Pero tras la elección presidencial del domingo pasado, en la que Putin consolidó su visión de Rusia como una fortaleza militar, está claro que ahora su isla es el nacionalismo, y que seguirá siéndolo mientras mande en el Kremlin.

El peligro que esto plantea salta a la vista. Tras dieciocho años en el poder, Putin se atreve a más que sus predecesores soviéticos al plantear como si nada la posibilidad de un conflicto nuclear con Occidente.…  Seguir leyendo »

This Sunday the Russian President Vladimir Putin has secured a stunning 76,66% of support during the presidential election in Russia. In his post-victory speech at the Manezhnaya square he encouraged a cheering crowd to proceed with Russia’s development: “We are destined for success.

While that is yet to be seen, it is clear that Mr. Putin is the one who is so far destined for success — and he uses cleverly-crafted manoeuvres for it. Hence, ahead of the election Mr. Putin in his usual, rather persuasive and eloquent manner, unveiled new types of weapon systems capable of striking targets even in Florida.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tema

¿Cuáles han sido las claves de la victoria de Vladimir Putin en las elecciones presidenciales celebradas el pasado 18 de marzo? ¿Puede esto suponer un cambio en el actual sistema político ruso?

Resumen

Este análisis es complementario a dos anteriores sobre el putinismo y sobre las relaciones entre Rusia y la UE, por lo que se centrará en algunas claves de la victoria de Putin y en la cuestión de cuáles serían los principales aspectos de su nuevo mandato. La victoria de Putin no supone un cambio del paisaje político de Rusia, sino la continuidad del putinismo. Pero para que todo siga igual, tiene que cambiar la economía del país.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Vladimir Putin of Russia at a meeting with foreign businessmen in 2016. The Russian economy has stagnated in the absence of reforms. Credit Olga Maltseva/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

There was never much suspense about whether Vladimir Putin would win the election on Sunday, but there is at least some question about which Putin will show up for his fourth term as Russia’s president.

It’s long forgotten now, but Mr. Putin was once a classic economic reformer. He took over as president in 2000, after a decade in which Russia was devastated by financial crisis, twice. With his country’s back against the wall, Mr. Putin in his early years pushed major economic reforms, including a simple flat tax and opening Russia to the world. His stated goal was to make Russia feel like any other European country.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dimanche 18 mars [date du premier tour de la présidentielle], dix-huit ans après sa première élection à la tête de la Russie, Vladimir Poutine engagera un cinquième mandat, de six ans. Un cinquième, et pas un quatrième, comme une lecture institutionnaliste le laisse croire. En effet, la présidence Medvedev de 2008-2012 était bien le troisième mandat. Le jeune protégé avait été élu avec l’engagement de faire de Poutine un chef de gouvernement tout-puissant. « Votez Medvedev, vous garderez Poutine », scandaient alors les médias aux ordres.

Cette année encore, le président russe a préféré un vote sous contrôle à une élection honnête.…  Seguir leyendo »