Reading on Russia Roundup #24

Populists in power: Russia and the USA (Une parole franche)

Populism is the up and coming thing in US electoral politics and….in Russian electoral politics. What does this mean for bilateral relations?

Conservatism as Preemptive Strike: The Case of Novosibirsk (Kennan Institute)

Novosibirsk—Russia’s third largest city and the unofficial capital of Siberia—rarely makes international news. Apart from stories about Akademgorodok, a Soviet-built science city, sometimes called the “Silicon Forest,” the city was barely mentioned in the Western press until recently. But over the last few years, owing to the astonishing number of victories of radical conservative forces over political, cultural, and religious freedoms in the city, Novosibirsk has become known as the “conservative capital of Russia.”

J.T. says: I was accepted into this university. I almost joined their program. Writing like this reassures me that picking a different uni was a good choice.

Насилие. Безнаказанность. Возмездие? (VTsIOM)

Проблема насилия в нашем обществе замалчивается, а жертва зачастую воспринимается как провокатор, а не пострадавшая сторона.

Russians will be voting on Sunday. Here’s what you need to know (NYU Jordan Center)

Russian voters will elect 450 deputies to Russia’s State Duma on Sunday, in the seventh election for the lower chamber of Russia’s bicameral Federal Assembly since the legislature’s founding in 1993.

Large-scale protests followed the last federal parliamentary elections on Dec. 4, 2011, after widespread reports of electoral fraud and rigged elections. Within days, an estimated 50,000 protesters across from the Kremlin were chanting “Russia without Putin.”

This year, 14 political parties are taking part in elections that were moved forward from December to September. Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europewill monitor the elections, which will return to a mixed electoral system last used in Russia’s 2003 federal elections. Half of the 450 seats will be decided by competitions in regional constituencies, technically known as single-mandate districts, using a “first-past-the-post” system like that used in U.S. elections.



One comment

  1. “The street says that the governing party, United Russia, will not retain its majority of seats in the Duma, and its showing may dip as low as 30% of the vote.”

    Aaaaaaand he loses it. Damn! Right before that phrase the article was really good. Now I’m disappointed. Really disappointed.

    Let’s start from the “word of the street” mentioned here. You don’t need to be a genius, to understand that, actually, good Doctor here is referencing last poll conducted by Levada CENTer (29 Aug). Levada is still thoroughly handshakable and trustworthy for the Western public – especially, because of all those grants and money poured into it. According to now much quoted by the Free and Independent Media ™ Levada’s Poll , United Russia gets 31%, KPRF 10%, LDPR 9% and The Just Russia 5%. Only these 4 parties will pass obligatory 5% barrier to get into Duma. All other parties either get 1% (Yabloco, Rodina, The Greens, ParNaS) or less than 1% of the vote. What all (yes – all, I checked it) shy and conscientious journalists and analytics fail to mention, are other answers to that poll. It’s not a rocket science to add up the numbers and come to the conclusion, that you have less than 100%. So, what are other options take by the people polled by Levada?

    1% answered “would spoil/take home my ballot”, 12% are still not sure which party they’d vote for, 15% answered that they won’t vote at all and 10% are not sure would they vote or not. And – suddenly! – 31% of the UR does not look like a failure. At all. Especially, after you remember that if the party fails to pass 5% barrier its votes are distributed equally among the “victors”.

    Don’t worry – there is no need to compute the numbers to find out what are proportions among those, who are willing to vote (and whose vote will be counted). Levada already did that – see their last table, which results no one (again – I checked it!) of “living-not-by-a-lie” journos bother ted to quote, ‘cause this runs counter the narrative that “UR is becoming unpopular and will be on the verge of defeat”. And when the UR, predictably, wins the majority you can screech and shout, accusing it of ballot stuffing, carousel voting etc, etc. So, the results by Levada itself look like this:

    The United Russia – 50%.
    KPRF – 15%
    LDPR – 14%
    The Just Russia – 9%

    Russian Party of the Pensioners, Communists of Russia, ParNaS – 2% each.
    Rodina, Yabloco, The Greens, Party of the Growth, The Civil Platform – 1% each
    All the rest – less than 1%.

    So… The UR will get 50% (in 2011 it get 49%). And this is, ah, “close to defeat”?

    And now – a caveat. These kind of polls are good and swell, but they are telling only half of the story. They are more or less trying to predict the results of the elections by party lists. But only half of Duma deputies are elected from them – the rest are elected from the single mandate districts. And, predictably, the United Russia will perform much better than their opponents, meaning that in the end, they could end up with 60% of Duma seats (and Doctorow basically says the same thing later). But no one is going to tell you that – because, again, this is against the narrative, and requires actually knowing a thing or two about how Russia works. It’s much easier just to claim “Putin runs everything!” and feel safe, that no one will prove you being full of it.

    Second point – Mr. Doctorow is projecting here. I’m quite astonished that he can claim that there would be a “coalition cabinet, bringing in ministers from the runners-up.” How can one be so ignorant about the process of the appointment of the ministers in Russia. Here is the relevant article from Wikipedia (English version of it, btw, lacks this info), which states in plain language that only president appoints the Prime Minister, and the Duma may or may not approve of the candidate. And it is the PM who offers candidates to feel the ministerial positions, whom President may approve or dismiss. It’s been like that since the blessed 90s, so don’t even bother blaming Putin for “increasing personal power”. The punch-line here: Russia ain’t no Parliament republic, but a presidential one. And future Duma won’t appoint cabinet members from it’s deputies. How can a person, reputedly respectful for his insight into things Russia et al be ignorant of that and still be respected could be only explained by even greater ignorance of the intended audience.

    “In particular, he explained to the Pervy Kanal presenter journalist Vladimir Soloviev”


    “…when we both took part in the Pervy Kanal’s leading political talk show “Sunday Evening with Vladimir Soloviev.””

    And just I began relaxing my attitude to Mr. Doctorow after “because our State Department and all of the specialist institutes and think tanks disdain any politicians and movements in Russia that are not on the US payroll” he fails againt. ArrghЪ! Vladimir Solovyev is not “Pervy Kanal” presenter – he works on “Rossiya 1”. And, yes – there is difference. There is more chance for the Communists, LDPR loyalists and liberasts to participate in Rossiya 1 talk shows (hosted by professional troll Soloviev) – and make fools of themselves – than on official, “for-all-family” central First Channel.

    Naturally, Mr. Doctorow is so captivated up in pushing his own narrative about “populists are coming!” that he simply ignores facts.

    P.S. And now for something completely different. This old election ad for Zhirinovsky never gets old!


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