Staunton, June 4 – Over the last six months, the Kremlin has so repressed the extra-systemic parties that many have neglected the fact that the powers that be have forced the systemic parties to become ever more only an echo of United Russia and Vladimir Putin, Vladislav Inozemtsev says.
That has had the effect of discrediting Aleksey Navalny’s tactic of “intelligent voting” – there is no one any Russian voter can intelligently choose – and means that the current Duma campaign is the first in post-Soviet times where “there is no place at all for any image of the future,” the economist says (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/06/04/partiia-drugikh).
And instead, Inozemtsev argues, it means that those who want change should focus on the age of candidates not on their party because only by choosing younger people is there a chance that Russia will break out of the Procrustean bed that Putin has tied it to over the last 20 years.
The repression of ever more of those opposed to the Kremlin has attracted widespread attention, but it is at least equally important to recognize that as a result of Putin’s efforts, the so-called “systemic” opposition parties have fallen into line with the Kremlin on key issues, thus precluding any serious debate.
“The communists and ‘renewed’ Just Russia Party are now apologizing if not for Stalinism then for Soviet practice; the LDPR is ever more actively promoting imperialism, anti-Westernism and even anti-Semitism,” and the smaller parties are either moving in the same direction or only talking about a distant future. Yabloko, for instance, now talks about the 2040s.
One is thus compelled to agree with Moscow commentator Stanislav Belkovsky who says that in many respects, Russia’s “systemic opposition today is even worse than United Russia” (openmedia.io/om_tv/belkovskij-pochemu-poleznee-ne-umnoe-golosovanie-a-pravilnoe/), precisely the conclusion Putin hopes Russian will reach.
In this situation, “intelligent voting” simply doesn’t work, and United Russia is likely to expand its majority from the current 76 percent to 80 or even 85 percent in the next Duma. Instead of trying to select out of the systemic parties candidates who are the least appalling, Russians should consider making their choice on the basis of age.
Indeed, Inozemtsev says, “the age of a candidate” should be “the only criterion” for making a selection. The reason for that is simple: “After a quarter of a century of stagnation, generational conflict in society inevitably has become more significant than any political or social kinds.”
“Today’s young people, regardless of their declared political preferences which will change essentially as they age are more contemporary, and therefore, it is necessary for the future of the country that they are more represented than those held by middle-aged and older groups,” the economist and commentator says.
Such a proposal may seem naïve, but if the only other way to express one’s protest is not to vote, it at least has the benefit of sending to the powers that be that there are many Russians who want what younger people want and hope that younger representatives will reflect that reality eventually.
Indeed, if there is no other way to talk about the future, this one at least should be tried.