Saturday, September 12, 2020

Regional Elections Show Russia Now has ‘Politics without Politicians,’ Pertsev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 11 – The current regional elections, in a development that will cast a shadow on the Duma vote later, show that “genuine politicians have left systemic public politics in Russia,” preferring instead to pursue careers within the bureaucracy and leaving in their place “statists without a will to power, for whom victory has become a burden,” Andrey Pertsev says.

            Paralleling the difficulties Russia has had with recreating a farmer-based agriculture after the Soviets destroyed the peasantry, the country now has a problem with creating a public politics after the Putin regime destroyed the possibilities for real politicians to engage, the Moscow journalist says (

            The Kremlin has gone into these elections committed to maintaining the same farce it has been organizing for some years, ignoring protests and polls showing how angry Russians are at the systemic parties in general and the ostensibly ruling United Russia Party in particular, Pertsev continues. 

            On Sunday, gubernatorial elections will take place in 18 federal subjects, but only in two – Arkhangelsk and Irkutsk Oblasts – is there much chance of things going to a second round – and in them only because they are traditional sites of protest voting and because elections in them are by Russian standards relatively honest, Pertsev says.

            In these two, any Kremlin defeat will have less to do with the strength of the opposition than with the weakness of the center’s choices. It could have selected others to run who would have spoken to the concerns of those who are protesting, but instead, the powers that be decided to continue on as if no one was upset.

            The Kremlin did create a few new parties to provide society with “new faces,” but it has already become obvious that these organizations haven’t been able to attract any heavyweights or even serious young people who recognize that these are hidings to nothing and prefer to pursue other careers.

            Businessmen no longer want to be involved in parties because of the risk, and the parties aren’t able to offer comprehensive programs.  They give people “nothing new” but rather dated quasi-liberal or ultra-patriotic nostrums. Thus, “Prilepin talks about the Donbass but not the nationality question, and New People about freedom for business but not about a change in direction.”

            As a result, “both the gubernatorial and deputy elections in the regions show” and this is likely to be confirmed in the Duma races next year “that politicians are leaving Russian public politics. The old figures are leaving or quietly holding on to their customary places, and the new prefer bureaucratic careers.“  The only ones running are timeservers waiting for their main chance.

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