Posted 19 февраля 2021,, 07:04

Published 19 февраля 2021,, 07:04

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38

Battle for Moscow: the outcome of the elections to the State Duma in the capital is decided on the distant approaches

Battle for Moscow: the outcome of the elections to the State Duma in the capital is decided on the distant approaches

19 февраля 2021, 07:04
Elections to the State Duma will be held in early autumn, but the temperature in the political kitchen has already risen dramatically. For politicians and the authorities, it is now being decided who, how and with what forces will act in the capital.

For all parties, Moscow is a test, and each of the 15 districts requires its own strategy. While the battles are on the distant approaches.

Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil

It is not at all easy to repeat the result of 2016 for United Russia in Moscow in these elections. This conclusion is made in the report of the Research Center "Minority Opinion" on the alignment of political forces on the eve of the elections to the State Duma in Moscow. "The company will be hard", "things are bad", "the fight will be oh-oh-oh" - these are just some, albeit quite emotional descriptions of the participants and observers of the campaign of the upcoming battle for parliamentary seats from the capital. They even say that many parties are thinking about moving the main battles away from the gold-domed one - in the struggle of the ruling party with the non-systemic opposition, the third will always be superfluous. However, given the high anti-rating of United Russia and the unwillingness of the Kremlin to allow representatives of the street opposition before the elections, the question of who and, most importantly, how and with whom will fight, remains open today.

"United Russia"

It is already clear that it will be extremely difficult to get 13 single-mandate constituencies out of 15 in the upcoming elections. The "Minority Opinion" believes that every third district in Moscow is a risk zone for pro-government deputies.

"It is very difficult to assess the chances of United Russia, because there are so many factors. The campaign will be difficult, and the systemic opposition is transferring the main battles to the regions", - says Yekaterina Kurbangaleyeva, director of the Minority Opinion research center.

Only three electoral districts are considered frankly problematic: the Leningrad, Preobrazhensky and Tushinsky political scientist, the general director of the Agency for Political and Economic Communications APEC Dmitry Orlov:

"The possible nomination of Sergei Kapkov in the Central District, which was previously potentially problematic, creates an obvious pole of attraction for loyal voters in the conditions of the already beginning fragmentation of the opposition-minded electorate".

As the authors of the report say, 2/3 of the deputies from United Russia who took part in the elections will not run. Some of them, like Vyacheslav Lysakov and Sergei Zheleznyak, have unresolved internal party conflicts. Others are tired of being deputies themselves, and voters are also tired of them. Nikolai Gonchar was elected 6 times to the Duma, Elena Panina - five times. Dmitry Sablin, member of the Civil Society Development Committee, has worked in the Duma of the 4th convocation...

Moscow is one of the five Russian regions where the rating of "United Russia" is minimal. President of the Center for the Development of Regional Policy Ilya Grashchenkov believes:

"The rating is historically low, about 15, maybe 10%, which, of course, is difficult to confirm by sociological studies. Logically, by indirect signs that fall into our hands, specialists, we can estimate that things are bad".

Indeed, the last strongholds of Russian power remains the territory of New Moscow. The Central Administrative District and all districts close to the center, including the Gagarinsky District, where Putin is voting, is a stalemate, because none of the systemic opposition parties has a high rating there. United Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party have no ratings. Yabloko and SR have much higher ratings than the Liberal Democratic Party.

Systemic and non-systemic opposition

In the last elections, the LDPR did not win a single single-mandate constituency in the capital. "Fair Russia" had one on account with Galina Khovanskaya, the communists also had one. After the protests in January, the situation in Moscow is not very favorable for the authorities, so any non-pro-government candidate will have a good chance. Political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin says:

"Now the people in Moscow are angry, so any serious deputy who will be able to create an image of an alternative for himself, and, no matter from which side, from the communist, from the nationalist - now say that I will fight against the vertical, against United Russia, and this will provide some pretty serious support".

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation in the capital does not gain a lot of votes; in 2016, the communists collected a little more than 13% on party lists. As our sources say, between the head of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Zyuganov and the First Secretary of the Moscow City Committee Rashkin sparks. Zyuganov has already been warned that there will be no "games" with Navalny. I mean "smart voting", when the headquarters of Alexey Navalny, in the absence of his own candidate, recommends his supporters to vote for another candidate, not United Russia.

Political scientist Kurbangaleyeva suggests:

"I have a suspicion that Rashkin will be removed from the list and put on the district. You cannot completely remove him, after all, the first secretary of the city committee, and he has his supporters. But, of course, he went into a deaf opposition, and so far the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation cannot cope with him. The boat cannot be rocked either, but the sanctions against him will be as follows: he will not be included in the list, as was the case last time. In 2016, he also headed".

Valery Rashkin himself says that he will go through both the list and the single-mandate constituency:

"Moscow has become oppositional and problematic for Putin, the Kremlin, the mayor's office, from the point of view of what to do so that Muscovites believe them - the party of crooks and thieves, including Putin, that something will improve, go for the better. Faith is gone. And from the point of view of campaigning, propaganda, money - they are already powerless, therefore, indeed, the chances of opposition-minded candidates to Putin, the mayor, United Russia are very good".

This is how the monologue of Navalny or Gudkov and Yashin could have sounded, and not one of the first persons of the combed opposition. But times are changing, especially during the election year.

The non-systemic opposition has other problems. Few doubt that her candidates will not be admitted to the elections.

Yekaterina Kurbangaleyeva believes that 2019 will repeat for them:

"The non-systemic opposition will most likely not be registered. Some of them are due to the institution of criminal cases with relevant articles that do not allow them to participate, and some of them will not be registered by signatures, because most of the non-systemic opposition, with rare exceptions like Gudkov, no one will come forward from the parties. They will have to go self-nominated, and objectively collecting 15 thousand signatures in Moscow, and there will be certain opposition, objectively it will be very difficult".

There are even darker scenarios: criminal cases threaten the most prominent representatives of the opposition. The same politician Dmitry Gudkov, who is predicted to be Yabloko's allies, has no illusions:

"Galamina was no longer allowed to participate in the elections, some of the candidates are under house arrest, and it is not known how it will end. There are a lot of options not to let in. On the way, the government chooses a scenario that will sooner or later lead to shocks. Someone wrote: “The Fortress plan has been introduced... not to let anyone go anywhere. Never. It seems that while they have such a scenario".

Sources of Novye Izvestia also do not exclude that the authorities are determined, and the sword of Damocles of criminal prosecution hangs over the prominent oppositionists - Lyubov Sobol, Konstantin Yankauskas, Ivan Zhdanov, and even Ilya Yashin. The only chance when the same Gudkov can get into the registration list is to go through the narrow window of Yabloko. Apparently, the negotiations between Dmitry and Yabloko are tough, so he even refused to talk about them. They put pressure not only on the non-systemic opposition, but also on Yabloko. Grigory Yavlinsky has already completed the first task of the ruling party - renouncing Navalny. Dmitry Oreshkin sees in this not only and not so much Grigory Alekseevich's personal dislike for Aleksey Anatolyevich:

"Personal attitude to Navalny can be swallowed. But Yavlinsky did not dare to bet on the voter. He preferred to maintain good relations with the administrative resource, that is, it will remain as a systemic opposition that is not allowed into the Duma, but is allowed to exist. This is a continuation of his 30-year policy of maneuvering, which has led him to worse and worse results. He had almost 8% in 1993, and then everything went down. The last two election campaigns - 1.3% and 1.4%. It will get worse now. But the alternative is very risky. And Yavlinsky did not risk it".

Yabloko's rating in Moscow is higher than in the country. In 2016, they showed about 10%. The big question is whether the Yabloko single-mandate candidates will be able to compete for a seat in parliament themselves, and whether Alexeiy Navalny will want to support Yabloko after such an affront by his leader, only time will tell. Ilya Grashchenkov thinks that the candidates themselves will act pragmatically:

"All statements by Zyuganov and Yavlinsky about smart voting do not exclude local cooperation. When the elections begin, regional candidates, district candidates will be happy to use these opportunities, especially since smart voting unites not only Navalny's electorate, that is, 2-3%, but today it is a broad coalition of angry citizens dissatisfied with the government, and this may be and 10%, and 15%, and 30%".

For Moscow, smart voting is an extremely disturbing story. If it somehow works, then it will be almost impossible for United Russia to win without using hemp technologies.

Administrative resource vs. Smart voting

Another sign of the current elections is that the administrative resource of the Moscow mayor's office is greatly weakened. The state employees have always been the main support of the authorities. Now the mayor's office can only rely on teachers.

"Doctors are tough in opposition, they were in opposition in 2019. They were quite critical in the regions too. Only teachers remain, but there is also confusion and vacillation. Pensioners are very different. In fact, only GBU remain, which can somehow be put into operation", - says Yekaterina Kurbangaleeva.

After the swamp protests, the administrative resource in Moscow is severely limited. Observers estimate the possibility of falsification at 2-3%. The variant of 2011, when the result of "United Russia" "corrected" to 47%, will not work today, says Dmitry Oreshkin. Now new deputies in the Moscow City Duma, angry members of election commissions will gladly reveal this falsification.

If the non-systemic opposition is not allowed before the elections, then the main beneficiaries of smart voting will be the communists and the Yabloko people, Ilya Grashchenkov believes.

United Russia members express skepticism about the success of the protest voting tactics. Dmitry Orlov believes that smart voting can be relatively successful only in 2-3 districts:

"And what is considered a success? Support for parliamentary opposition candidates? But this does not give Navalny's supporters complete control over those deputies who will be elected with their assistance. In addition, the project needs a public driver, and Navalny, for obvious reasons, cannot play this role".

Smart voting will not create a qualitatively new Duma, because you will have to choose from the same four or five parties, but it will create a problem for the single-mandate members of United Russia.

The ruling party is also preparing for this.

"Old songs about the main things"

As it is seen now, the authorities are trying to solve the problem of Moscow in several ways. The first, tested in many elections and successfully applied by Sobyanin's predecessor as mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, is the so-called “drying up” of the turnout. It is known that Muscovites do not go to the elections, considering them deliberately falsified. And although they are protesting towards United Russia, this does not appear in the election results, says Dmitry Oreshkin:

"The main task of the organizers of the elections is to minimize the turnout, to develop a strategy of low turnout, which Luzhkov implemented. To do this, you need to say that, yes, the elections are bad, in no case do not go. Because if they come, no administrative resources in Moscow as a whole will be able to correct the situation. It's painful for United Russia in Moscow".

To strengthen their positions, the authorities want to involve "ideological troops". As it became known from our sources, the host of the program "60 Minutes" Yevgeny Popov will run in a single-mandate constituency. Negotiations are underway with the hosts Anton Khrekov and Timofei Bazhenov. In Sochi, the editor-in-chief of the Republic of Tatarstan Margarita Simonyan can go to a single-mandate district.

This is not the first time celebrities have come to power. There were athletes and artists. In 2019, the experiment of "United Russia" on the appeal of the workers of the ideological front was recognized as successful: 4 out of 4 television persons won the elections, in contrast to less successful rectors, for example.

"The presenters, on the one hand, are recognizable. On the other hand, loyal ones, on the third hand, are hung up on the tongue, because there is nothing to talk about with athletes and artists. It's easier with the presenters - the language is suspended, they can talk about socio-political topics, but they are absolutely loyal, because it is clear where they work", - explains Kurbangaleyeva.

Ilya Grashchenkov remarks dryly:

"The United Russia was inspired by the election of Medvedev, the VGTRK correspondent. Apparently, after that they decided that the VGTRK journalists are a treasure for nominating new successful candidates. The technology of nominating promoted candidates is understandable. But the time has changed. In addition, Medvedev was less toxic than the current Popov and others".

Grashchenkov has not seen sociology, but he suspects that along with the rating, these candidates from the ruling party have an anti-rating. The presenters may not love, as often happens with Vladimir Solovyov, for example:

"You often hear statements: yes, I watch Solovyov, but he is frankly annoying, because he does not allow the interlocutors to speak, yells at them, attacks and so on. Whether this statement refers to Popov, Skabeeva, Simonyan and others is a debatable question, but I think that they have a certain anti-rating".

The rating can be increased, but nothing can be done about anti-rating. If a person is not respected, then it is almost impossible to interrupt this negative.

Observers say that another factor in the upcoming elections is the change in the tactics of the non-parliamentary opposition. Having lost the opportunity to participate in the elections, Navalny's supporters will switch to the tactics of "inflicting maximum damage". Prominent United Russia (Yedinaya Rossiya) members will be targeted, political analysts say: Pyotr Tolstoy, Andrey Metelsky, Alexey Shaposhnikov and others. It is possible that the films are already being filmed, and due to the scandalousness and open nerve of the information confrontation, the Duma campaign will become one of the brightest in recent years.