Regional elections in Russia: Respectable success in Siberia

Regional elections in Russia: Respectable success in Siberia

In the elections in Russia, the Navalny method of “wise voting” does not work. Also because of massive election fraud.

“Boiko, Boiko”, they call out into the night. The young women and men shine into the darkness with their phones, play “Modern Talking”, shoot videos and send them out into the world. It is their “victory”, as they say, their day that they have fought for so long.

For whom they were insulted that they were provocateurs and wanted to ruin the country for which they repeatedly set up the demolished information booths and were not deterred when masked men threw a bottle of caustic liquid into their circle and three of them had to be driven to the clinic with breathing difficulties.

You wanted change, now you are allowed to change. In the city council of Novosibirsk, the third largest city in Russia. Five representatives of the “Novosibirsk 2020” coalition made it straight to the local parliament in the regional elections on Sunday.

With Sergei Boiko, the “Siberian Navalny”, as they say here, at their head. It is a respectable success in a vote that lasted several days and was overshadowed by manipulations. Election observers from the NGO “Golos” spoke of “arbitrariness” and reported 1,300 violations, a record in recent years.

Boiko had – against the resistance of Alexei Navalny and his team in Moscow – stuck to the idea of a union of activists of the metropolis, was convinced that only one group would gain the power monopoly of the ruling party “United Russia” and the communists, who in Novosibirsk had a kind of May break the pact.

31 they wanted to move in here, a difficult road. They didn’t get the majority, but “United Russia” lost 11 places. “Now politics begins,” says the tired Boiko.

Sunday’s election was seen as a mood test for the State Duma election next year. According to preliminary results, the Kremlin can sit back and relax. Everything went well. The people finally voted “with heart and mind”, as Andrei Turtschak, the general secretary of “United Russia”, said on election evening.

Of course, you chose United Russia. In the gubernatorial elections, all 20 governors supported by the Kremlin Party won the vote. The Kremlin directly influences politics in the individual parts of the country through these regional heads. In the regional parliaments, too, “United Russia” was mostly able to hold its majority.

But it’s a hard-won victory. Mainly because Alexei Navalny’s “Smart Voting” method made it difficult for the representatives of the ruling party in advance. In Tambov, 450 kilometers southeast of Moscow, it worked perfectly, a ray of hope for the Navalnys team. Of the 18 seats in the city parliament, 16 go back to “smart voting”.

The method aims to vote for candidates who do not belong to or are not close to “United Russia”. Navalny and his team are a kind of service provider and use sociological surveys to search for the strongest counterpart of “United Russia” in a constituency. This approach is not uncontroversial because it often brings questionable candidates into parliaments.

Overall, Nawalny’s strategy failed in this election, but it showed how harassed the rulers feel. Innovations introduced after the constitutional vote played into the hands of the elite. Voting took place over a period of three days, even once on tree stumps and in the trunk, and people could also vote at home.

Such rules make election observation difficult. The defense of the rulers’ claim to power is paramount, including in Novosibirsk. For example, a young candidate from the Boiko coalition, who ran against a seedy businessman and initially outperformed him, has to prove that the 300 votes for this businessman have suddenly been bought.

They are dirty tricks that Navalny already mentioned in his revealing videos, which he shot not only in Novosibirsk, but also in Tomsk, 600 kilometers away. Then he got on a plane to Moscow and collapsed. Poisoned with Novichok, as now confirmed by other laboratories. The post-production had to work without the idol of the opposition youth.

In Novosibirsk Navalny had Boiko by his side, in Tomsk, the west Siberian student town, Xenia Fadejewa and Andrei Fatejew. A shock for the young activists when Navalny was eliminated – and they lacked a mouthpiece so shortly before the election.

And yet they felt an upswing. Suddenly even the most apolitical became interested in what was happening in their city. The political activists agitated, they mainly addressed the youth, with films on Instagram, with calls on Telegram, with broadcasts on YouTube. It worked.

Like Boiko, Fadeyeva and Fateyev, also from the Navalny regional staff, had a surprise in these elections. “Friends, we have won,” reported Fadejewa late on Sunday evening, having chased the representative of “United Russia” from her post in eight out of nine constituencies.

With Boiko the counting took longer. His opponent was more weighty: But the communist Renat Suleimanow, represented in the city parliament since 1996 and the right hand of the Novosibirsk mayor, must now give the way.

The 37-year-old IT man, who set out five years ago to help shape the politics of Novosibirsk, can now begin his tour of the institutions – in a body that has little to say on the whole.

But being able to show people in the city: Yes, politics is also what happens in your own courtyard. Politics are sidewalks, playgrounds, benches. Not just the confirmation of the ruling regime, which has been the top priority in elections so far.

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