Staunton, Oct. 8 – Polls in the wake of the Duma elections show that the share of Russians who distrust the results has risen dramatically and now almost equals the share of those who believe the vote was honest. The result of this trend, Russian experts say, is that the greater public distrust becomes, the weaker the political leaders and the stronger the siloviki will be.
This impact is especially greater, political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin says, because the level of trust is divided segmentally. Those who backed United Russia think the voting was fair, while those who opposed it felt it was something in which they could place no trust (newizv.ru/article/general/08-10-2021/pravo-silnogo-v-rossiyskoy-vlasti-komu-vygodno-nedoverie-k-vyboram).
At the same time, the elections were not falsified totally as in Soviet times or Chechnya today. They were falsified only in part and only in some places. And that in turn means, Oreshkin continues, that “they were dishonest although again not everywhere and not always,” something that deepens this divide as well.
Mikhail Vinogradov, a political analyst who specializes on religious issues, says that in his view, the main cause of distrust is that people do not feel that they are real participants in a process of choosing leaders or policies, but they did not have that feeling in Soviet times and so accept much that others would protest about.
Oreshkin points to another cause of a sense on the part of the population that the elections were illegitimate: 72 Duma candidates gave up the mandates they were elected to fill, and that mean 72 others who had not even run were inserted into the national legislature without a scintilla of popular support.
Another Moscow political analyst, Aleksandr Kynyev, says he considers the situation to be catastrophic but not necessarily catastrophic in the way many think. The sense Russians have that the elections were not legitimate is not going to lead to a change in direction let alone a revolution.
Instead, this sense that the voting was not legitimate will weaken those who are ostensibly elected by the people both absolutely and relative to the siloviki who are elected by no one and whose response to everything is to use force. Oreshkin agrees and believes that the illegitimacy of this vote points to more repression ahead.