Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Tatarstan Electoral Map Divided between Chechnya and Moscow

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 11 – The results of Sunday’s voting in Tatarstan show that that Middle Volga republic is divided into “two unequal parts:” one that resembles Chechnya with participation and support for the ruling party close to 100 percent, and a second like Moscow with low rates of participation and increasing divisions among the electorate.

            In a commentary on today, Sergey Gupalo writes from Kazan that in those “Chechnya-like” portions of the Republic of Tatarstan, “all political life has been paved over under asphalt.”  There, there is not even any “controlled” opposition of the Zyuganov type, and “consequently, the results are ‘Chechen’” (

            But in the cities and decaying industrial centers, the commentator continues, the situation more closely resembles that in Sobyanin’s Moscow: low participation – in fact, even lower than that in the Russian capital – electoral fraud designed to help the party of power retain control, and still a divided vote with other parties winning some seats in local legislative bodies.

            Gupalo provides details on the voting in these two parts of Tatarstan, details that appear to justify his conclusion that this round of voting shows that “Tatarstan is Chechnya and Moscow in one bottle,” a situation that he suggests will only be overcome with a new edition of socialism where a party machine won’t control one part and the rich “bays” the other.

            Unfortunately, he continues, in Russia today, Moscow will likely try to go after the bays but not the party machine, all the more so since the latter delivers the outcomes the ruling United Russia Party wants and the former “is not capable even of minimal Russian Federation-average outcomes.”

            Gupalo’s article has already attracted a number of comments. The first, from a blogger who identifies himself as a Kazan resident, asks simply: “Is this true only for Tatarstan?”  The answer of course is absolutely not.

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