Victor Tkachuk on Democracy, Ukraine & the EU

Trying to preserve at least a simple majority in the lower house of the State Duma, the ruling party of Russia has obviously overdone it. Authorities created the grounds for today’s events when in due time they artificially reduced the number of “official parties” to 7 and removed “against everybody” option from bulletins.

As a result, although the opposition parties which have entered the parliament – the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, “A Just Russia”, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia – have expressed the protest against falsifications of elections, as a whole, they are happy with the achieved results. Their weak involvement in the street actions eloquently testifies to it. Outsiders of the election campaign – “Yabloko”, “Right Cause” and “Patriots of Russia” – now objectively have no support of citizens which would allow them to count on the overcoming of the 7% barrier. Their attempts to initiate the recalculation of votes in separate districts – are sooner the attempt to preserve the face, rather than the reckoning upon any essential result.

Supporters of numerous organizations and movements debarred from the election process most actively demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the ruling party in streets and squares today. Some of them came to polling stations following the appeal of the activist Navalny – to vote “for anybody but United Russia”. However, the majority of people simply didn’t participate in elections, as they had nobody to vote for. Exactly these votes were used in favor of the “United Russia” by the authorities.

Offended by such behavior of the authorities, thousands of people went outside to streets.

But what’s next? It’s clear what these people are “against”. Against falsifications. But, it seems, they do not completely realize, what result do they want and can accomplish. Do those people, who gathered these days in streets and squares of Moscow, and their leaders have at least the semblance of a general vision of how Russia should develop, a distinct program of actions? Can they unite and propose a coordinated candidate for the Presidential post? Not simply a single candidate, but a person backed by the team of effective managers, capable of governing such a huge country as Russia? Most likely, no.

What will happen, if re-elections are appointed in Russia, and, let’s say, twenty more parties will be admitted to them, apart from the seven official ones? The result of each of them will be lower than the electoral threshold, and seats in the State Duma will be redistributed between the present prize-winners of the election race. As a result, Russia can get a leftist parliament, with the prevalence of communists. As a result – an inevitable confrontation with the president. Something similar already had place in Russia in 1993 and ended in bloody slaughter in Moscow streets. It is dreadful to assume, what outcome of a similar clash can be today …

Nevertheless, there is a hope that current mass protest actions will conceive positive effect for the future of Russia. A month ago, the Valdai club experts tried to convince the favourite of the future presidential race of the necessity of reforms. Today, citizens of Russia send a powerful signal to Vladimir Putin that changes in the country are necessary. And the essence of this message, it seems to us, is in the idea that the “new-old” boss of Kremlin should concentrate not on the plans of creating doubtful geopolitical projects like the Eurasian Union, but on solving internal Russian problems, such as corruption, inefficiency of the state machinery, unsatisfactory investment and business climate, raw materials dependence of the economy.

Naturally, reforms in the administrative sphere and economy should be accompanied by the gradual liberalization of a political regime in the form of the establishment of a dialogue between the power and the civil society and a wider application of direct democracy forms.

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