Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Again as in 1996, Intelligent Voting Changing Vector of Russia’s Development, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 19 – Many act as if Aleksey Navalny’s call for “intelligent voting” in the Duma elections was a first, Vladimir Pastukhov says; but in fact, it is the second time – the first was in 1996 – when Russians cast their ballots for someone whose policies they didn’t like could defeat someone whose policies they liked even less.

            And in one of the delicious ironies Russian history is full of, Russian liberals voted for the authoritarian Boris Yeltsin in 1996 putting Russia on course to Putin’s neo-totalitarianism; but now they have voted for the communists to express their opposition to precisely the system their earlier voting made possible, the London-based Russian analyst says.

            In short, Pastukhov writes, at first this use of “intelligent voting” appeared to destroy the communists; but now that same strategy has opened the way for communists to return as a powerful counterweight to the Putin regime, not immediately of course but in the longer term (echo.msk.ru/blog/pastuhov_v/2906402-echo/).

            “The main beneficiary” of all the maneuvering of the last few months, he argues, have been the communists “who have come out of the underground” and shown that “zombies can be transformed into people, at least in Russian elections. The main loser has been the Kremlin which now for many years will be associated with zombie-attacks on ‘intelligent voting.”

            In terms of the reported results, of course, United Russia will win its super majority. But it will do so only in the face of something much more serious for the future: “the newly acquired (or restored) electoral habit of voting for ‘the reds,’” Pastukhov continues.

            “A taboo has been lifted,” he says; and “now if you don’t like the powers, you can and should vote for communist-Stalinists, monarchists” or whomever else is running in order to show your displeasure. This won’t happen immediately, and one cannot say that intelligent voting was the only thing going on in this election.

            But there can be no doubt, the London-based Russian analyst says, that intelligent voting “became the trigger” which changed the behavior of the intelligentsia and sent a signal to the rest of the country, including the powers that be. The latter face “a red boomerang” coming back from the use they put intelligent voting to 25 years ago. 

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