18 September 2014
Vladimir Kara Murza
MOSCOW — Russia’s regional “elections” on September 14th—cleared ahead of time of most Kremlin opponents—predictably ended with Soviet-style 80-to-90 percent approval figures for the incumbents. In St. Petersburg, where some pro-democracy candidates managed to make it onto the municipal ballot, their actual results were drowned in the thousands of “early voter ballots”—outside of the control of independent monitors—almost all of which, by pure coincidence, were cast for Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. As a result, the liberal Yabloko party—always a strong presence in Russia’s former capital—ended up with zero seats on municipal councils. Meanwhile, the Kremlin-installed St. Petersburg governor, former KGB officer Georgy Poltavchenko, “won” against a preselected slate of shadow boxers, his victory duly certified by “international monitors”—the same group of European neo-Nazis that previously approved Putin’s annexation “referendum” in Crimea.
In Crimea itself, in what must surely be a world-record vote swing, the list headed by Sergei Aksyonov, the reputed former gangster known as “Goblin” appointed by Putin to govern the annexed territory, received 70 percent of the vote—up from 4 percent in Crimea’s legislative election in 2010.
The only poll that did not go quite according to the Kremlin script was the election for the Moscow City Duma. Some 180,000 Muscovites—13 percent of those who took part in the ballot—used it to express opposition to Putin’s war in Ukraine and his annexation of Crimea by voting for Yabloko, a party that explicitly condemned those actions. In six Moscow districts, Yabloko’s vote surpassed 20 percent; in many precincts it topped 30 percent—a result that shattered the Kremlin’s propaganda myth that Putin’s war on Ukraine is opposed only by “a handful of national traitors.” “The vote for Yabloko… was a mass demonstration against the war, the lies, the dumbing-down of our people,” wrote party leader Grigory Yavlinsky, “You showed that there are many people who have not been affected by the mass hysteria and propaganda.”
This demonstration—against war, lies, and propaganda—will be repeated on September 21st, when tens of thousands of Muscovites are expected to walk through the center of Russia’s capital demanding an end to Putin’s aggression against Ukraine.
Muscovites Use Vote to Say ‘No’ to Putin’s War