In the near future, electoral procedures will be held in Russia, misleadingly called “elections”. In this connection, discussions have once again resumed within the Russian opposition community about the most optimal strategy for the opposition in these “elections”. And again, as many years ago, arguments are heard about the “need for electoral participation” of citizens, about the preservation of political culture, about the importance of “election observation” et cetera. And again, as long ago, in 2011, there are calls to “vote for any other party” except United Russia.
The arguments of the supporters of participation in Putin’s pseudo-elections have changed little over the years, but Putin’s regime itself has changed a lot. Having come a long way from hybrid authoritarianism to a full-fledged totalitarian dictatorship, Putinism has destroyed all opposition inside the country, leveled civil rights and freedoms, and crushed independent media and non-profit public organizations. Putin’s regime now literally controls all forms of public life for Russian citizens, including so-called “elections”. The threads of control over these electoral procedures are in the hands of the heads of the Presidential Administration. It is impossible to beat them on their own turf.
But there is an even more important factor that supporters of participation in “elections” try to ignore. Putin’s regime has been waging an aggressive, invasive war against Ukraine for the second year already, killing its defenders and civilians, destroying its infrastructure and seizing its territories. Most of the participants in Putin’s electoral show are parties that directly support this war, which in their militaristic fervor are just as strong as United Russia, and sometimes even surpass it in the degree of cannibalism. A typical example of such a party, which has also become the main beneficiary of an electoral strategy popular in certain opposition circles called Smart Voting, is the Just Russia party, whose ranks include, for example, the well-known war criminal, former OMON officer, and writer Zakhar Prilepin. The same Prilepin who personally confessed on camera to numerous murders of Ukrainians. And the leader of this party, Sergey Mironov, was posing with a sledgehammer in his hands not so long ago, after the details of the Wagner PMC executions became known.
In these circumstances, calls to participate in Putin’s electoral show, and especially to use the strategy of many years ago of voting for any party other than United Russia, are meaningless. There is no significant difference between United Russia, Sergey “Sledgehammer” Mironov, or Communist candidates. Not to mention the party members of the late Zhirinovsky, whose delusional visions and dreams have apparently become the basis of real Russian foreign policy. To support these parties today is to support Putin’s criminal war against Ukraine. And participation in elections in the occupied Ukrainian territories can be considered legalization of stolen goods.
For many years we have consistently opposed Putin’s regime, warning the international community about its nature and the threats emanating from it. Time has shown that we were right, but many casualties could have been avoided if we had been listened to earlier. Similarly, for many years we opposed participation in Putin’s electoral circus, explaining the pointlessness and even harm of such participation. We continue to stand our ground. We must not participate in this buffoonery. No to Putin’s “elections”! No to Putin’s pro-war parties! Not one vote for war criminals and those who help them!
Free Russia Forum
August 22, 2023