Duma Vote Shows Changes Won’t Come in Russia via Elections, Commentators Say
September 19 – The most important feature of the Duma Elections was
unprecedentedly low level of participation, a reflection of the Russian
population’s symmetrical response to the Kremlin’s contempt for its views and
an indication that change in Russia “will not come via elections but as a
result of some sort of catastrophe,” Viktor Shenderovich says.
the country’s intellectuals, the Russian commentator continues, “this was
already clear” with the government’s repressions in 2011-2012, “but the
God-bearing people, having shrugged its shoulders, simply stupidly awaits
developments” – and those are unlikely to be peaceful (charter97.org/ru/news/2016/9/19/223168/).
“Hundreds of thousands
have left” the country, and the elections show that “millions are in despair.”
Indeed, Shenderovich says, “only VTsIOM and Ostankino can interpret the outcome
as broad support for Putin and United Russia. Everyone else will see that the
people have shown their rear ends to the powers that be, just as the powers
have done to them.
Russian analysts are drawing similar conclusions.Political scientist Maksim Zharov told URA.ru
that “there may be no basis for doubting the legitimacy of the elections from
the point of view of violating the law, but the low participation rate gives
the extra-systemic opposition the occasion for attacking their legitimacy” (ura.ru/articles/1036269016).
Liliya Shevtsova, another Moscow analyst, observes that these elections and the
Duma they have produced are likely to be remembered “as an example of the discrediting
of parliamentarianism,” something the Kremlin may welcome, but also as a failed
effort by the regime to maintain stability by fakery (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=57DE6FB518634).
society, she suggests, “in a situation of growing dissatisfaction and not
having legal channels for the defense of its interests will be forced to
express its interests in the streets. Of course, the authorities understand
this,” and they are preparing to repress it, something that may delay but won’t
prevent an explosion.
to Shevtsova, “everyone is saying that the new Duma will be the last dance on
the stage of its collapse.Those who
understand this will begin to look for new objects of loyalty. Others will
continue to fill their pockets.”And
despite United Russia’s “victory,” it is even possible that the new Duma will
even discuss real things.
even if that happens, the nature of the elections as controlled by the powers
that be, she says, “will hardly be able to help the Kremlin imitate vitality.”
Instead, they are likely to have exactly the opposite effect as events in other
countries where the authorities controlled the elections and then lost control
of the parliament and the streets.
is what happened most recently with the Verkhovna Rada in Ukraine, she points
out, and things are now moving beneath the surface even if the Kremlin is able
for some time to use force and thus maintain the veneer of its much-vaunted “stability.”