Staunton, September 15 – Some analysts had expected that there would be protests after the latest elections although most supposed that these regional votes were unlikely to trigger that. But four experts tell Rosbalt’s Aleksandr Zhelenin that the post-election calm all have noticed is “deceptive.”
Anastasya Nikolskaya, a Moscow sociologist who works with the Beslansky group, points to the low level of participation. Only those whom the regime could force to take part did so in many cases, and she adds that pre-election polls showed high levels of anti-regime anger (rosbalt.ru/russia/2020/09/15/1863610.html).
In her view, “our society is living with a sense of a serious storm impending,” and the current quiet may only mean that people are saving their energies “in the expectation that something similar may happen in Russia as is taking place in Belarus today.”
Konstantin Kalachev, the head of the Political Experts Group, says that the victory United Russia won this time was “Pyrrhic” because participation was so low and so its candidates were able to get in with just over half as many votes as they would have needed earlier. He also noted pro-regime candidates had to hide their affiliation by running as independents.
He suggests that in the 2021 Duma voting, United Russia will encounter “serious threats” and that its party list may not pass the 5 0 percent barrier and therefore won’t be able to pretend that it should be called “the party of the majority.”
And Moscow political analyst Aleksandr Kynyev argues that the Kremlin may not have been unhappy with the low turnout not only because that meant the opposition received fewer votes but also because the regime is ever less confident that those it can force to take part will vote as Moscow wants. He adds that the “three-day” election was to check on them.
The three agreed that the Navalny poisoning had not had a large impact outside of major cities where the Internet predominates; but they also agreed that the Kremlin continues to make mistakes that ultimately will have consequences. And the three agreed with the view of a fourth analyst, Andrey Okara of the Center for East European Research.
He said that in Russia today, things are as they often are: “the people is silent but then after some triggering event, there will occur ‘a Russian rising, senseless and pitiless.”