The Orenburg region summed up the results of the ruling party’s primaries to select candidates on party lists for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Top places predictably went to the candidates who had enjoyed the largest support from the United Russia party.
The runners-up are far more interesting. They are quite remarkable persons who are likely to get into the spotlight very soon and more than once.
The Orenburg region sizes up United Russia interparty election winners
United Russia’s primaries have become the talk of the country. The Orenburg region was in the top five in terms of electors and probably took the lead by the number of scandalous newsmaking events.
It all started back in early May, when Igor Sukharev, deputy governor of the regional government for domestic policy resigned of his own accord. Local experts said that Moscow had recommended to pave the way for Viktor Zavarzin, the region's representative in the current federal parliament. As a result, Zavarzin won in a single-mandate district in the Orenburg region.
The United Russia election got more coverage after the regional law enforcement agencies started criminal prosecution against municipal companies employees and Orenburg city administration officials. In late May, authorities searched the apartment of Orenburg mayor Vladimir Ilinykh, one of the candidates in the primaries with the most favorable treatment. Ilinykh finished third in the race. It will be clear quite soon whether the federal party leadership will agree to assign a top position on the party list to the official who is under scrutiny of law-enforcement agencies.
In general, the results of the primaries on the regional list indicate that the winners had enjoyed the largest support from the regional leadership of United Russia. Svetlana Bykova, head of the cardiology department of Orenburg regional clinical hospital No.2, came top of the list. Obviously, she had been playing on healthcare issues which are very topical now. The second and third places were taken, respectively, by regional parliament speaker Sergei Grachev and Orenburg mayorVladimir Ilinykh. Tatiana Moshkovskaya, head of the regional branch of the United National Front, placed fourth by the number of votes. Immediately after the primaries, Oleg Dimov, secretary of United Russia’s regional branch, announced that Orenburg region governor Denis Pasler would be offered to head the party list in the region. As it stands, the top five are Denis Pasler, Svetlana Bykova, Sergei Grachev, Vladimir Ilyinykh, and Tatiana Moshkovskaya. The first three persons are not going to work in Moscow for the time being, so Ilinykh becomes a placeholder candidate.
At present however, the spotlight is not on the clear favorites but the runners- up. Orsk oil technical school teacher Marina Abramova, little known in Orenburg, took fifth place. She had never distinguished herself as a regional politician and never took part in representative bodies. Apparently she has won on the protest sentiment of the eastern cluster in Orsk, Novotroitsk, and neighboring districts which are irked by the regional authorities’ inattention to this part of the region. There were no "eastern" politicians on the all-regional list in the elections and Abramova, the only representative of Orsk, received all the "free" votes of the eastern part of the region.
The sixth place, taken by Yuri Mishcheriakov, a former Orenburg mayor and incumbent Russian State Duma deputy, reflects the difference between regular and government lobbying power. Mishcheriakov, who failed to have his candidacy entered on the "main" list of candidates, made an attempt to use his old connections in district administrations but suffered a crushing defeat. This has already caused his resentment, which is unlikely to have any effect on pre-election setup. His political career is as good as finished.
Meanwhile, regional lawmaker Sergei Babin, who finished seventh in the primaries is faring much better. Babin belongs to the group of "young" lawmakers who have not yet taken high-ranking positions in the legislative or executive branch. He has recently completed the Party's PolitStartup human resources training program. Babin is building his campaign on direct cooperation with electors in the district he represents in the regional parliament. At the same time, he was able to net almost one and a half times as many votes on the all-regional list as in his district. This means he’s recognized in the region and has a potential.
Sergei Babin represents politicians of the so-called "new formation" who are currently in great demand in the region.
"In his campaign, Babin staked on electoral methods of struggle. He directly communicated with voters using social media and Telegram and in this respect he stands out among the "administrative" candidates who only rely on controlled electioneering. Babin's strong performance in the primaries shows a huge demand in the region for representing the interests of residents at all levels, and also that the channels of communication, capable of conveying these interests to top officials, are underdeveloped today," experts say.
The outcome of the United Russia primaries in the Orenburg region made it possible to not only assess the current political preferences and priorities of party leaders in the region but also forecast the post-election political situation in the region. Chances are new persons will soon enter the political arena to represent the main requests of the electorate, for example the demand of the eastern districts of the Orenburg region that the elected official be a district resident well-versed in the local situation. Secondly, there is a demand for new faces at the highest levels of representative power. The public is tired of the incumbents who have tarnished themselves in previous election campaigns and fully use administrative leverage in their own interests. It inevitably leads to ruling party and legislative bodies reshuffles.