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 Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid