Moscow City Duma elections: what are filters for?

Scandal continues in Moscow over the withdrawal of independent candidates from the elections

The Kremlin is not going to intervene in the scandalous situation that has arisen around the elections to the Moscow City Duma, the media reported on Tuesday, citing the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov. Peskov motivated this by the fact that the elections in the capital have always met “a fairly high standard”.
By “high standard,” Putin’s press secretary may have meant few people would find an insurmountable filtering barrier for independent candidates who need to collect several thousand signatures in the constituency where they run on a tight schedule. Moreover, the signatures are then mercilessly discarded under dubious pretexts, and candidates are removed from the race even before the start..
Thus, according to the oppositionists’ statement, when entering voters into the electronic system, the commissioners deliberately made mistakes in names and surnames, so that later they could use this to invalidate the signatures. Sometimes people who put their signatures with their own hands were, in spite of everything, credited as “dead souls.” No one has yet been able to prove the opposite, despite the fact that the signatories themselves expressed a desire to do so. In particular, the signatures of TV presenter Mikhail Shirvindt and other famous persons were recognized as invalid..
But, perhaps, there is no equal to the story with the signature of the opposition activist Ilya Yashin, which he put for the nomination of another oppositionist – Gennady Gudkov. The graphologist rejected this visa too.
“The decision on admission to the elections has nothing to do with the quality of signatures,” Gennady Gudkov tweeted in this regard..
Yashin and Gudkov, like many other independent candidates, were removed from the elections. To date, only two Yabloko employees and one self-nominated candidate have passed the filtration sieve..
On the eve of independent candidates and their supporters held protests in the center of Moscow, continuing to seek admission to the elections. The actions took place in the form of a meeting with voters. According to OVD-Info, police detained 39 people, including some candidates, which was illegal. At least three protesters were taken away by ambulance.

Moscow City Duma elections: what are filters for?

The candidates called on their supporters to protest indefinitely, announcing that they would go out to Trubnaya Square every evening. Also in the capital on July 20, an agreed rally will be held for admission to the elections of the opposition.
Head of the Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program, Carnegie Moscow Center Andrey Kolesnikov believes that the filtering barrier existing in Russia was created solely in order to prevent candidates uncontrolled by the authorities before the elections. It seems to him that this part of the electoral legislation simply has no other purpose..
“Judging by the role these filters play, they are absolutely inconsistent with the country’s fundamental law,” he added in an interview with Voice of America. – Moreover, this clearly restricts the rights of citizens – both those who are elected, as well as those who elect. People are simply not allowed to vote for candidates they like. Here is the Constitution, there are reasonable questions to the Constitutional Court “.
When in practice there is an open disregard for the interests of voters, on the one hand, and on the other, people who compete with the pro-government candidates cannot be elected, and this is a violation of the fundamental principles of the Constitution, Andrei Kolesnikov stated. He sees an explanation of the reasons for the situation in the fact that the authorities seem to have disappeared from the need to “imitate competition in elections at all levels.”.
“When Alexei Navalny took part in the mayoral elections in September 2015, the authorities were still playing a simulation of competition,” the political scientist noted. – But then it turned out that the competition turns out to be real and fraught with unpredictable consequences. This thoroughly scared the authorities. Exactly from that time on, she put a barrier in front of the opposition, blocking its path to any political process and any elections. “.
At the same time, Andrei Kolesnikov clarified that he means the real opposition, and not its imitation, which, in his opinion, are the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and “Fair Russia”.

Moscow City Duma elections: what are filters for?

Let us remind you that Alexei Navalny won 27.24% of the vote in the mayoral elections in Moscow and took second place after Sergei Sobyanin (51.37%). The oppositionist also did not recognize the results of these elections, because, according to his data, Sobyanin avoided the second round thanks to falsifications..
In turn, a political scientist Alexander Kynev believes that no catastrophe would have happened if opposition candidates in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other regions had been admitted to the elections. He is absolutely convinced that participation in the elections of the opposition is necessary for the normal functioning of the political system that has developed in the country and for the legal expression of dissatisfaction with citizens..
“So that those who are dissatisfied have incentives to express their point of view not by going out to barricades and rallies, but by working in representative bodies, for which these bodies, in general, are created and exist in all normal countries of the world,” he explained in comments for the Russian service “Voice of America”.

All convocations of the Moscow city Duma (1993-2020)

What the authorities are doing now, from his point of view, “pushes people out of the legal political field” and leads to a radicalization of the situation: “Moreover, in conditions of growing public discontent, the authorities create extremely dangerous incentives for the future. This is the very case when, if you do not give steam out of a boiling kettle, it can explode “.
It seems to him that officials, apparently, simply do not have enough common sense..
“In addition, any government, including the Russian one, acted according to the“ divide and rule ”principle. Earlier, the Kremlin tried to divide the opposition into loyal and disloyal, to reward those who are ready to negotiate, to punish those who are not ready. Now a crazy strategy is being implemented, as a result of which the authorities create all the conditions for the unity of the opposition. And she only needs to “thank” herself for this, ”he concluded..
Elections to the Moscow City Duma will be held on September 8. Experts predict extremely low turnout at polling stations.

  • Victor Vladimirov

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