Staunton, August 5 -- Direct assaults on democracy are easy to identify and easy to denounce, if not always easy to counter. But indirect ones – or perhaps one could call them “hybrid” attacks – are less so in all three regards, even if it has long been a principle in the West that elections must not be used to end the possibility of future ones.
The dangers of such attacks are especially high when they occur outside capital cities because then there are not typically the journalistic or diplomatic resources and because many outsiders are inclined to dismiss any reports of moves in this direction as only of “local” interest and concern.
A particularly egregious case in Karelia, however, compels attention as an example of this “hybrid” attack on democracy, in which the Kremlin and its agents in place are using nominally democratic procedures to overturn the popular will as expressed in democratic elections.
Today the pro-Putin majority in the Petrozavodsk city council voted to overturn the veto the city’s mayor, Galina Shirshina, had cast on their earlier vote to do away with mayoral elections. As a result, the city charter will be changed, and the mayor will be chosen not by the people but by the city council members (