NSResident Vladimir Putin There are many reasons to get angry. He tried to poison the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. He locked him in one of Russia’s toughest penal colonies. He outlawed his anti-corruption foundation. He expelled his comrades out of the country and banned allies from running for elections. Nonetheless, after all this, Mr. Navalny and his movement are still at the center of the September 19 elections for Russia’s Duma (its parliament).
On the surface, the political arena is entirely Putin’s. The only political parties allowed to run, including the Communist Party and the harmless liberal costume Yabloko, were disinfected by the Kremlin. The Kremlin-backed United Russia victory is not surprising, as the media is confused and crackdowns and censorship are the main tools of the campaign.But as the Kremlin struggles with Navalny’s efforts to awaken and coordinate voters, the drama unfolds under the hood.
The Kremlin hoped that most Russians would not be interested in it, assuming the election was a natural conclusion. United Russia would be out of control if they were at home. Because a solid group of state workers, pensioners, and members of the army are in a hurry to vote for it. Low turnout avoids the need for explicit collusion, along with the risk of large-scale protests.
At the same time, the Kremlin is urging people to vote online, especially in Moscow, where United Russia is particularly weak, making it easier for authorities to snoop on them and manage the process. He apparently hacked a database of online liberal media organizations and sent a message telling readers to boycott elections.
Still, Navalny’s campaign to stir up and consolidate protest votes from his cell has hurt Putin. Pollsters give United Russia less than 30% of the votes. The Kremlin is particularly rattling when Navalny called on people to follow a “smart voting” strategy. Since half of the Duma seats are allocated by the party list, opposition leaders are calling on supporters to vote for parliamentary parties other than United Russia and knock them back.
The other half of the seats are in a simple single-seat constituency system, so here smart voting teams are most likely to use their own voting data and analysis to defeat United Russia, regardless of their views. Approved the candidate. Its main purpose is to rob the United Russia of the majority and weaken control over election committees across Russia. That way, you can give your opponents more room in relatively strong places, such as Khabarovsk in the Far East. Smart voting has worked in a variety of local elections, including Moscow in 2019, when United Russia was sluggish.
Russian internet censors have officially blocked smart voting websites and ordered Google and Russia’s leading search engine Yandex to block the combination of two words in search (smart voting). .. Yandex obeyed, but Google didn’t, so he was fined. The Kremlin accused it of “interfering with the Russian elections.”
In anticipation of such disruptions, the Navalny team created a smart voting app. Internet censors have ordered tech giants, including Apple, to remove it from their stores.I also ordered it VPN And websites-security providers to prevent downloads, obviously almost useless.
Journalists have been arrested for reposting references to smart voting in their social media accounts. Human rights lawyers are being targeted. Popular bloggers are under house arrest for breaking covid-related rules that almost no one follows. There are Soviet threats even offline. Hundreds of people across Russia have reported visits by plainclothes police who asked about Mr. Navalny and warned of disastrous consequences if they supported him.
Political analyst Kirill Rogoff says smart voting has become a political party in effect. “It’s not the name or registration that defines the party, but its ability to integrate voters and influence the outcome of the election,” he says. The Kremlin’s power rests on two pillars: the threat of information monopoly and oppression. However, the spread of the high-speed mobile Internet has changed Russian politics. The Liberal Mission Foundation, a Moscow-based think tank, believes that the percentage of people who get news online has skyrocketed from 18% to 45% in the last five years. Therefore, 70% of Russians know about Mr. Navalny. His YouTube channel has as many viewers as large-scale state news. TV set channel. Whatever the outcome of the election, the war over the Internet will be even more troublesome.■■
This article was published in the printed European section under the heading “Voters are getting smarter”.
Vladimir Putin is still rattling by Alexei Navalny
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