Staunton, Oct. 2 – The true measure of the falsification of the election results is how the Kremlin has behaved since they were announced. Everyone expected falsification, but it was so great this time around that the regime has responded by trying immediately to redirect the attention of Russians by talking about domestic problems, Anatoly Kantor says.
The Russian commentator says that the regime recognized that its legitimacy was at stake because its falsifications were so enormous, mostly via electronic voting which was easier to manipulate than any other kind but also because of the three-day process, that it had no choice but to distract attention (apn-spb.ru/publications/article34069.htm).
And also realizing that it had no obvious foreign policy move that could win it support from the population in the way that the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea did in 2014, the Kremlin began to talk about what it would do to address problems of domestic concern, something one might have expected during the campaign but that occurred only afterward.
Putin “found his next set of enemies. To the surprise of some, these weren’t the Americans, but ‘poverty,’ problems with the ‘healthcare’ system, ‘education,’ and ‘underdeveloped infrastructure,’” Kantor says. “Ukraine, the US, and NATO may take a breather because the current enemies of Vladimir Putin are exclusively domestic.”
These domestic issues are truly of concern to Russians; but what matters is not that Putin is raising them but when. He didn’t have United Russia raise them during the campaign when one would have expected a political party interested in gaining real support would but only afterward when it had become clear that his party lost to others.
The KPRF did talk about these things and did far better than many expected, including those in the Kremlin. And so now, in order that its base does not force that party’s leadership which has always been ready to defer to the Kremlin to become a real opposition party, the Kremlin and its United Russia is trying to steal the thunder of the left.
Had the elections been honest and had United Russia actually won the majorities it claimed, the regime would not have had to make such a concession to reality. But it didn’t and so it has, and that shift, Kantor suggests, will have the effect in this case of deceiving a few but causing even more Russians to view the regime as illegitimate.
In that sense, the elections really worked as they should have, demonstrating the real balance of forces in society. But because of Putinist falsification, they are working in this way only after the fact and indirectly or in a “hybrid” way, something entirely consistent with the Kremlin leader’s entire approach.