Graphic shows United Russia’s falling approval rating and opponents barred from office.


Kremlin verplettert politieke tegenstand

By Duncan Mil

September 17, 2021 - September 19, 2021 - The Kremlin is ensuring that the ruling, but unpopular, United Russia party wins a majority in the State Duma. Political opponents have been jailed, driven into exile or barred from standing.

Pressure has also mounted on independent media and human rights activists, with authorities labelling them “foreign agents” and “undesirable organizations,”

The election is crucial because the Kremlin wants complete control over the State Duma, as the lower house of parliament is known.

However, the Levada Center, an independent pollster, puts United Russia’s popularity as low as 27 per cent, down from 44 per cent in December 2015.

Opposition politicians and political analysts say Sunday’s parliamentary election is President Vladimir Putin’s latest bid to hold power. The Duma chosen this month will still be in place in 2024 when Putin’s current term expires, and he faces re-election.

Authorities mounted a fierce crackdown after protests erupted in January following the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexey Navalny. That followed his return from Germany after recovering from an assassination attempt that he blamed on the Kremlin.

No one from Navalny’s team is running. Many have left the country after a new law barred those with ties to “extremist organizations” from standing for office.

Despite the crackdown, Navalny’s team still plans to deploy its Smart Voting strategy -- a project to support candidates who are most likely to defeat those from United Russia.

Another prominent Kremlin critic, former lawmaker Dmitry Gudkov, has fled to Bulgaria after planning to run in a Moscow district against a United Russia candidate.

Authorities also jailed Andrei Pivovarov of the Open Russia opposition group financed by Russian tycoon and Putin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Yulia Galyamina, a prominent politician, convicted over her involvement in anti-Kremlin protest rallies, has also been barred from running.

PUBLISHED: 15/09/2021; STORY: Graphic News