News / Europe

Russians Vote Sunday for New Parliament

James Brooke

Russians vote Sunday for a new parliament that critics call the "Approval Ministry" for rubber-stamping bills advocated by the Kremlin. Voting will take place among growing discontent with Russia’s strongman of the last decade, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin likes choreographed politics like last Sunday at the nominating convention of the ruling United Russia party where he won 614 of 614 votes cast.

But one week earlier, Putin, a judo expert, was unexpectedly booed at a martial arts match. One blogger called it "the end of an era." Then, another taboo was broken shortly after, when Mr. Putin visited Russia’s parliament, and opposition deputies refused to stand.

Vladimir Ryzhkov, a former Duma deputy, believes Putin wants a political bounce from Sunday’s elections.  Ryzhkov says Putin believes a heavy turnout, without widespread accusations of fraud, will give his rule legitimacy.  

Communist militants who have been demonstrating in downtown Moscow will vote. The Communist Party is expected to come in second.

Some of these nationalists will vote for a Kremlin-controlled nationalist party.

But other opposition voters plan to stay home or mark a large X across their paper ballots.

To pump up the turnout, the government is running TV ads like this one that shows a sexy girl luring a young man into a polling booth and then closing the curtain.

The Kremlin says voters can choose among seven parties.

One party, Fair Russia, is airing ads lambasting corruption in the government.  But authorities refused to register Vladimir Ryzhkov’s party.

Ryzhkov compares Russia’s system with communist East Germany, where Putin served as a KGB agent. East Germany had five parties. Today, China has nine parties. But, he says, no one calls China a multi-party democracy.

Golos, a nongovernmental organization, has set up an electronic bulletin board for complaints about election rule violations. So far, more than 4,500 have come in by email, SMS and telephone.

Lilia Shibanova who runs Golos says that government employees - teachers, doctors and social workers - are under heavy pressure to get out the vote for United Russia.

In a preemptive move, state-run TV is attacking Golos prior to Sunday’s vote, painting them as foreign agents.

David Hoffman reported on Russian politics in the 1990s for the Washington Post. Back in Moscow to research a book, he says Putin has radically reduced political competition in Russia.

"The oxygen of democracy is competition," Hoffman noted.  "And there are some signs that I certainly see that people are not happy with the idea of some kind of democracy that lacks competition. And I think that is a big, big change from 15 years ago."

Sunday’s turnout and the perception of fairness in the parliamentary vote will set the stage for Russia’s big electoral prize, presidential elections on March 4.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid