Russia’s regional elections are being voted on by the poison of the main opposition figure Alexei Navalny, an economic crisis created in parts of the country by the coronovirus epidemic and mass protests.
Elections are being held in 41 regions of Russia, where people are casting their ballots in four by-elections for regional governors and legislatures, as well as for national lawmakers.
Reporting from Moscow, Alexandra Stojanovich-Godfire of Al Jazeera said on Sunday that the elections were seen as a “major test” for the ruling United Russia Party and President Vladimir Putin, who both did a year before parliamentary elections. Have seen their ratings fall.
United russia Currently dominates the federal parliament and many regional administrations, The party is the closest with Putin. The long-time chairman, however, is not a current member of any political party and is thus able to distance himself from unpopular measures initiated by subordinate superiors.
Last month, a nationwide survey by the Levada Center, Russia’s largest independent polluter, showed that 29 percent of Russians would participate in anti-government demonstrations to be held in their region.
Tatyana Stanovaiya, head of the R.Politik analysis firm, said the results of the elections would help the Kremlin determine whether United Russia needed to improve and if parliamentary elections should be pursued.
The toxicity of Navalny can also affect voters and bring about “contradictory effects”, Stanovya told AFP news agency.
The 44-year-old, an anti-corruption crusade who is one of Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a flight back from Siberia to Moscow on 20 August and was airlifted to a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk by AIIMS for an emergency landing.
After being evacuated from Berlin, German doctors said that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok nerve agent.
His colleagues believe that the use of banned chemical weapons can only be attributed to the Russian state. The Kremlin has rejected any suggestion that blames Russia.
Under Navalny’s leadership, the opposition hopes to challenge Kremlin domination over Russia’s political life by promoting strategic voting, urging the Russians to return the strongest candidate on the ballot to defeat the ruling party.
Navalny’s team urged Russia to vote for candidates of any party other than United Russia – Navalny had been in Siberia to promote so-called “smart voting” when he was ill.
Any other candidate – “a Communist, a member of a Liberal Democratic Party, a member of Just Russia Party” – would be “better than United Russia”, Navalny’s team mentioned in a statement on Friday to Russia’s four major political parties.
“The election can be won,” it said, pointing to the far eastern city of Kharborg, where tens of streets have been taken to the streets for the past two months, over the arrest of a governor who led a ruling party in 2018. Was defeated by
Stanovaya said Navalny, still recovering from Russia’s political landscape and absent, had launched a “smart voting” campaign.
“On the other hand, what happened to Navalny was a shock,” Stanovya said, noting that some of those who had not previously supported him could now change their minds.
Some observers believe there is another Kremlin agreement to dilute the opposition vote, with candidates also standing for four small-time new parties.
With United Russia facing a deep popularity crisis, elections in the country are taking place for the first time in more than three days and some polling stations will be open.
Early voting began on Friday and Sunday is the main voting day.
The controversial three-day voting plan was first tested on constitutional amendments during national amendments on July 1 to make it possible for Putin to remain in power until 2036.
One of the highest-profile campaigns has taken place in Novosibirsk, where the head of Navalny’s office in Russia’s third-largest city, Sergei Boiko, brought the opposition together to counter United Russia and the Communist Party.
Their “Novosibirsk 2020” coalition has put forward about 30 candidates for the city’s legislature and campaigned with the help of volunteers from the Navy’s Anti-Corruption Fund.
“This is an attempt to unify the opposition, all who are saying ‘no’ to the current regime,” Boiko told AFP.
The former Khabarovsk governor and the case of the protest movement in Russia’s neighboring Belarus have both led to small-scale demonstrations in solidarity in Russian cities, suggesting that the prospect for a protest vote is increasing.