“If the changing of game rules begins right during a football match or in any other sport in favor of a particular team, the organizers of this event will be called fools at the very best,” said Gennady Zyuganov, the General Secretary of the CPRF party. “However, the things of this kind are not an isolated event in the Russian political arena.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only brought such ideas as social distancing and self-isolation to the Russian reality, but also a number of new resolutions. For example, the extension of the voting period. For the first time, a technology of this kind was tested in the framework of the All-Russian voting on amendments to the Constitution, when the Russians had an opportunity to participate in the plebiscite almost a week before the main day of voting.
Of course, this algorithm immediately caused heavy criticism from a large number of those who are entitled to press for fair elections according to their status. Namely, the representatives of the opposition, both systemic and non-systemic, who have accused the federal centre of attempting to manipulate and to some extent “correct” the election results in its favor for many years. While the story of referendum on the amendments, which introduced the mechanism of preliminary voting for the first time, is gradually being forgotten despite negative reviews and critical comments by the authorities, the recent decision of the Central Election Commission of Russia (CEC) has once again made the problem acute. It led to even stronger criticism from opposition parties, including those represented in the State Duma.
“Political Infirmity and Hysteria in Mass Media”
The fact is that the CEC has decided to use the experience of multi-day voting in the September elections. Thus, on the Unified Election Day, September 13, 2020, about 9,000 elections of various levels are to be held in 83 regions of Russia. However, the CEC decided to give people the opportunity to vote early two days before that date, that is, September 11 and 12. The CEC recommended this algorithm for 41 Russian regions, which immediately triggered an enormous controversy from the opposition political forces. Moreover, the criticism turned out to be so harsh that the CEC could not ignore it. Therefore, Ella Pamfilova, the chairperson of the Central Election Commission, had to comment on the situation.
According to Pamfilova, she does not understand the “hysteria in the mass media” around the early voting. During the session of the commission she said that the elections in half of the EU countries were held ahead of schedule, but nobody was surprised by it and, more importantly, “there are no hysterics.” In this regard, Pamfilova called on political forces to campaign more actively for their supporters to participate in election monitoring. However, Pamfilova actually used the same vehement language as the opposition representatives, whose actions she was actually complaining about.
“We were looking for a way to attract as many observers as possible to guarantee full control over the election process,” she said. “Political infirmity should not be covered up with hysterics about possible falsifications.”
Maidan in Russia is Inevitable
Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the CPRF group in the State Duma, as a real veteran of the political battles in Russia, to whom Pamfilova partly addressed her words, acted in his habit of offering a quick response. Using traditionally harsh rhetoric, he said that by turning the election into a sham, the CEC actually made a Maidan in Russia inevitable.
“I believed that Mrs. Pamfilova was still standing on the side of law, stability, and decent and democratic elections,” Zyuganov said emotionally. “Unfortunately, however, the CEC is increasingly playing the role of a cover for a completely destructive policy that is fraught with mass unrest in Russia. If the commission were to help hold fair elections, probably I would also welcome Pamfilova's current statement. However, I can also refer to facts when she and other members of the commission became a cover for the policies of thieves pursued by local authorities.
“Today, the 5th column is launching a fierce attack on everything that considered to be people's and Russian. If we turn the election into a dirty gamble, a Maidan in Russia will become inevitable.”
In addition, Zyuganov complained about the fact that the elections can be considered to have started by and large. Meanwhile, the authorities are changing the rules right in the process.
“If the changing of game rules begins right during a football match or in any other sport in favor of a particular team, the organizers of this event will be called fools at the very best,” Zyuganov said. “However, the things of this kind are not an isolated event in the Russian political arena.”