Regional and local elections in Russia with the opposition dismantled and Ukraine in the background

Regional and local elections in Russia with the opposition dismantled
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In 2013, the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, struggled to renew his mandate as head of the Russian capital against Alexei Navalny, then an emerging opposition figure. Ten years later, the panorama is completely different. With almost all independent opponents eliminated from political life, and voices critical of the Ukrainian conflict ruthlessly repressed, the victory of Sobianin and the candidates of the ruling United Russia party was a certainty in yesterday's regional and local elections in Russia.

In 21 regions, their governors were directly elected. In 20, the legislative assemblies. In four - deputies to the State Duma. In addition, many local elections were held throughout the country.

In the absence of surprises, these elections serve the Kremlin to check the level of support, anger or enthusiasm of the population a few months before the presidential elections of March 2024, which will allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to consolidate power until 2030. .

In the absence of surprises, these elections serve the Kremlin to check the level of support, anger or enthusiasm

In some local media, the elections have been interpreted as a referendum, especially in regions prone to protests. This is the case of those in the Far East, with their epicenter in Khabarovsk, where demonstrations against the Kremlin broke out in 2020 after the arrest of the governor, Seguéi Furgal.

That spirit of protest has waned. “Our political system is well established. In most regions, people vote conservative and an undisputed leader. No desire to try something new,” said Gleb Kuznetsov, from the Institute of Experts on Social Studies, in Nezavisimaya Gazeta .

The area of ​​Russia with the most protest activity has been Moscow. But the opposition leadership has been dismantled. Those who had achieved prominence, such as Alexei Navalny, Ilya Yashin, Alexei Gorinov or Vladimir Kara-Murza, have been imprisoned in recent years, as have hundreds of politicians, activists or independent journalists who have demonstrated against the military intervention in Ukraine.

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As it was, the rivals of the official candidates had little chance. Opposing Sobyanin were, among others, Boris Chernishov (Liberal Democratic Party), who participated in a television debate alone because the other candidates did not attend; or Vladislav Davankov (New People), who admitted that he had no intention of winning.

Yesterday was the official day of these elections, but in most regions voting has taken place for three days. In addition, Russia has organized elections for ten days in the Ukrainian regions of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk, which Kyiv and its allies have described as “illegal.”

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