What is the point of the Russian election campaign?

Things got out of hand during a TV debate between the opposition candidates in the Russian presidential election campaign: the nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky insulted the liberal candidate Ksenia Sobchak and she reacted by throwing a glass of water over him. The incumbent president Vladimir Putin had once again refused to participate. He doesn't need to either, commentators conclude.

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Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Candidates are just clowns

The whole point of the TV skirmish is to have Putin's challengers put each other in a bad light, Radio Kommersant FM fears:

“They attack each other, curse and throw water at each other. The special role of Vladimir Zhirinovsky is clear: he provokes, makes the others lose their temper and can hardly be restrained. Perhaps someone benefits from all this, but above all they are ruining their own chances. Who prevented [the communist candidate] Grudinin from preparing? ... Meanwhile the main candidate is busy. He has no time for such shows; after all he's responsible for managing the country. And he'll win by a large margin.”

newsru.com (RU) /

Sobchak making good ideas unpopular

Sobchak's presenting liberal ideas is making them increasingly unpopular with voters, political scientist Alexey Shaburov concludes in a Facebook post published by newsru.com:

“[Sobchak] provokes feelings of personal aversion in voters. ... So it follows that the public will transfer this aversion to the ideas she expresses. And as we know she talks about the replaceability of the state leadership, about freedom of expression, human rights and democracy. Well I for one don't believe that the general public will be keen on such ideas when they come from Sobchak. To judge by the ratings, their rejection of them is actually growing stronger. It's unclear whether this was the plan all along, or whether it has just happened by coincidence.”