Staunton, July 14 – Moscow residents have never been fans of United Russia and would never overwhelmingly back its candidates, but the authorities have decided to ensure that 90 percent of the local deputies will be from that party using various pretexts to disqualify opposition candidates rather than coopting moderate opponents, sociologist Grigory Yudin says.
That approach “could have worked five years ago,” he says; “but today after the municipal elections and waves of protest voting in the regions, attempting to pact the Moscow parliament with United Russia people is something only those who have lost contact with reality would try” (blog.newsru.com/article/14jul2019/protest).
Not only has this approach of the party of power led the various democratic opposition groups to cooperate but it has radicalized them, leading to protests in the streets. The only question now is whether these protests will be large enough and sustained enough to force the authorities to change course, the sociologist continues.
Unfortunately, the authorities do not understand that by seeking to exclude candidates by challenging the signatures they have collected, they are alienating not only the candidates but also those who signed their petitions, Yudin says. If the city wanted to create a real opposition, this would be “the best possible recipe.”
And many of the challenges that the authorities are using are so transparently designed to exclude opposition figures that everyone can see what is going on. “What difference does it make if someone writes “city” and someone else “c” if it is obvious that 5,000 people want to see a particular candidate on the ballot?”
“As of today,” the sociologist says, “we have a strong democratic coalition with serious popular support which thanks to the collection of signatures has a complete moral advantage: they fulfilled idiotic demands, the people stand behind them, and they must be registered. The initiative is in the hands of the coalition.”
That makes protest meetings like the one today in which more than a thousand people took part (dailystorm.ru/news/v-moskve-proshla-akciya-v-podderzhku-nezavisimyh-kandidatov-v-mosgordumu) “decisive,” Yudin argues. “Mass protests are the only thing which the Moscow powers that be are interested in and the only thing they fear.”
In 2011-2012, Russians, including Muscovites, went into the streets to protest the falsification of elections after they occurred and by their actions shook the power vertical in a serious way. Now, they have been driven into the streets before the voting takes place by officials who do not understand what their actions will lead to.