Staunton, December 12 – Having suffered significant losses in the size of its majorities in the municipal assemblies in 2019 as compared to 2016 and having learned that even a few opposition deputies can create problems, the United Russian powers in Smolny are actively purging opposition deputies even when the latter are very few in number.
This effort has taken on particular urgency in advance of the 2021 Russian State Duma elections because officials fear that the minority legislators will use their positions to call attention to problems and issues officials in St. Petersburg and Moscow fear could further weaken United Russia’s position, Sergey Kovalchenko says (severreal.org/a/30980856.html).
By the massive falsification of results in 2016, including the election of some deputies by more than 100 percent of voters, United Russia in the Northern Capital elected 1187 of the 1525 members of the assemblies. But that still left room for the systemic opposition parties and even independent deputies whom the powers could not easily control.
In 2019, United Russia saw its advantage drop by 230 deputies to 957, with the number of the problematic independent representatives increase by 258. These deputies behaved like real opposition groups, raising questions and making demands that the powers that be did not want to answer or meet.
As a result, the leadership in Smolny decided to get rid of as many of them as possible through various maneuvers, including bringing criminal charges against them. But as the number of opposition deputies declined, those who remained became more radical. And so the powers decided they all must go.
Thus, the purge, which Sevreal journalist Kovalchenko documents in detail, has accelerated in recent months, although he suggests that the impact of the removal of opposition deputies may backfire on the authorities because it highlights the fact that only these opposition figures are prepared to challenge Moscow’s appointees and defend the population.