Boris Vishnevsky’s most difficult opponent in Sunday’s municipal elections in St. Petersburg may be two other people with the same name.
Vishnevsky, a senior member of the liberal Yabroko Party and opposed to President Vladimir Putin, found himself on the wrong end of what he called the classic sabotage strategy: the other two men have been registered as Bao Rees Vishnevsky did not oppose him, obviously to confuse the voters and hinder his opportunities. The “new” Vishnevskys changed their names and even appeared with the same bald head and gray beard.
“This is political fraud,” the original Vishnevsky said in an interview. “This means that the support rate of government candidates is so low that they cannot win honestly. They have to use dirty tricks… These people have no reputation and no conscience-they only rely on administrative resources, not the public trust.”
His situation illustrates the pressure that the Russian opposition faces before the September 19 vote, when voters across the country will choose a new national parliament, which critics call it The country’s least free poll in decades. Several regional legislatures and governorships are also up for grabs.
The election has additional significance because it is the last vote before Putin’s term expires in 2024. With food prices soaring and real income declining, the Kremlin is eager to show its strong support for the president.
There is no doubt about the results of the election. Analysts say it is unlikely that any party that bans the four Kremlin-controlled groups already in the Duma or the House of Commons will occupy the 450 available seats. The United Russia Party, which supports Putin, is expected to maintain its absolute majority in the Duma of the lower house of parliament-more than two-thirds.
Many opposition candidates even struggled with votes. Dozens of people have been banned from running for public office, many of whom have links to jailed activist Alexei Navalny, whose anti-corruption organization has been declared “extremists” by Russian courts.
Even candidates who have nothing to do with anti-corruption activists are excluded from the election. The reasons given included failure to register correctly, in one case, ownership of shares in two Russian listed companies that were ruled by the electoral authorities as “foreign assets”.
Those opposition parties allowed to vote said they were the victims of a dirty trick reminiscent of Russia’s chaotic 1990s. The Communist Party, the largest opposition party in the parliament, said it had been “smeared” after receiving strange support from a criminal notorious for imprisoning two girls in a basement.
The attack on the opposition shows that the Kremlin is disturbed by its popularity. The support rate of the United Russia Party is only 29%, the lowest level since 2006.
Putin is not a party member, obviously to protect his higher approval rate from the party’s poisonous tongue. This year, the list of political parties is led by the popular defense and foreign ministers Sergei Shoigu and Sergei Lavrov, and their high support rate should theoretically help them increase their turnout.
Putin has always been shy about whether they will leave the post of minister to become members of Congress. Analysts believe this is unlikely because it amounts to a significant downgrade. Putin announced the distribution of 7 billion U.S. dollars in cash to pensioners and members of the security service, which appears to be a pre-election gift.
“Obviously, Putin’s rating is declining, and his support within the government is also declining. Therefore, it is not only afraid of itself, but also of internal divisions-risks of internal scandals, connections, court coups, etc.,” the political scientist Alexander Key Said Alexander Kynev.
In response to the crackdown, Navalny’s allies urged supporters not to vote for the unification of Russia, but for alternatives approved by the Kremlin. The application developed by the event will recommend suitable candidates.
The goal is not to change the policy, but, as Navalny wrote in his team’s prison message posted on Instagram, to vote tactically to demonstrate the lack of popularity of Unified Russia.
“The point of smart voting is not to get 40% or 50% of the votes, but to get 16% of the votes from people who will vote against the unification of the Russian Federation anyway, and to ensure that they get together to vote for a candidate— —A person with the best chance — instead of throwing it away,” Navalny wrote.
The Kremlin accused Navalny of being a CIA agent bent on destroying Russia, and described any attempt to promote its wise voting activities as foreign interference. “Obviously, this is a continuing risk for us. There is no doubt that they will try to intervene in the election. Thankfully, the mechanism for hedging these risks is sufficiently complete,” Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. .
Russia has banned the application He also complained that the US Internet platform did not delete the banned smart voting search results, and even summoned the US ambassador on Friday to warn him that it had “incontrovertible evidence” that the US technology giant had “violated election-related Russian laws.”
Kinev said that Navalny believes that the wise vote that deprived 20 of the 45 seats of the United Russia Party in the Moscow City Council election two years ago may be decisive-if not on a national scale, at least there will be Enough seats embarrass the United Russia Party and the President.
“Look at the Kutuzovsky District [in western Moscow],” said Kynev, a place where protests were relatively high. “There is a candidate from Yabloko and a candidate from the Communist Party-one of them will receive an additional 15% [and win]. “
But Vishnevsky said that the spectacle of his two clones proves that the Kremlin is willing to spare no effort to prevent the opposition from voting.
“These people are not independent. They changed their name and appearance because they were told-if they were asked to change their gender.”