Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Both Participation and Non-Participation in September Regional Elections Can Be Useful, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 29 – In the run-up to the presidential elections, Russian opposition groups divided between those who argued that participation in the voting was a mistake because there was no chance to break through and it legitimated the Putin regime and those who argued it was important because it helped mobilize an otherwise inert population to take part in politics.

            But with regard to the upcoming elections of September 9 when gubernatorial elections will take place in 24 federal subjects and local parliamentary elections in 17, that debate is irrelevant, Igor Yakovenko says.  Because Russia is a diverse country, both methods can be useful and even supplement one another (

            The opposition has almost no chance to win any gubernatorial race, and in those cases, it may make sense to boycott the voting in order not to give the Putin regime a victory. But it has a real chance to elect some people to regional parliaments – and it should use that to the fullest, the Moscow commentator says.

            That is because, he continues, the existence of even “a single honest deputy” gives the opposition the chance to raise questions of the regime that will expose its criminal nature, such as about the failed military adventure in Syria that is claiming ever more Russian lives. A deputy can pose questions to the defense ministry that an ordinary citizen cannot. 

            If an opposition deputy were elected to the Transbaikal legislative assembly, he could sent a question to the defense ministry about “what the four dead Transbaikal residents were doing in Syria and how Sergeant Igor Mikhailov and his comrade Sergey Yelin who were buried [earlier this week] in China suddenly turned out to be ‘military advisors’?”

            Because of that possibility, Yakovenko says, “arguments within the opposition between supporters of participation in elections and their opponents [which] long ago acquired the harshness and intolerance toward opponents characteristic of religious disputes” have no place in the upcoming vote.

            “The only wise approach in this situation is not to try to convince one another because this is impossible” but rather adopt a case-by-case approach. “It is important to recognize that various methods of struggle with this personalist regime of a fascist type must supplement one another.”

            Electing at least one opposition figure in some legislative competitions would be “outstanding.”  And not voting to show the falsifications officials use to elect governors is also valuable.  “We do not have only one method against Vladimir Putin.  Rather by the combination of various methods, the probability of the collapse of his regime significantly grows.”

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