Russia: regional elections in wartime

Regional elections were held in the Russian Federation on the weekend. Independent observers reported irregularities and described the elections as the least free since the beginning of Vladimir Putin's rule 24 years ago. Elections were also held in the occupied territories of Ukraine. Commentators are unsparing with their criticism.

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taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

An embarrassing spectacle

Calling these elections a farce is an understatement, the taz scoffs:

“If the political situation in Russia were not so devastating, one would burst out laughing at this embarrassing spectacle which the Kremlin called 'elections'. ... Once again it's the same programme of electoral fraud, which raises the question: Why? Because with only a few exceptions, alternative candidates were not allowed to run. Many Russians didn't even know a vote was taking place, let alone which candidates were running for which positions. But none of this bothers the Kremlin: its United Russia party has won and everything has gone according to plan.”

Echo (RU) /

E-voting the next step

In a Telegram post republished by Echo, political commentator Abbas Gallyamov sees the elections as preparation for the presidential elections in March 2024:

“The more thoroughly you seal the boiler, the bigger the explosion will be when the pressure inside reaches a critical level. I think the real strategy of Putin's presidential campaign will not be based on content or ideological novelties but on the conversion of the entire Russian electoral infrastructure to electronic voting. They will try to eradicate paper ballots under the guise of modernisation. Then elections really will become a meaningless procedure. Something like what happened in the Russian Empire on the eve of 1917.”

Ilya Yashin (RU) /

Bittersweet elections in prison

Opposition politician Ilya Yashin, sentenced to eight and a half years in prison, describes on Facebook how he experienced the ballot behind bars:

“Elections in prison are quite entertaining. Dozens of detainees are led to the ballot boxes at the same time, and there is a rare opportunity to chat and exchange news with neighbours. ... The convicts happily discussed who to vote for. ... With a clear conscience I wrote on the ballot paper: FOR A RUSSIA WITHOUT PUTIN. Afterwards, I conducted a spontaneous exit poll on my way out of the prison polling station, which showed that most prisoners voted for anyone as long as it wasn't the United Russia party. Only one of them admitted to having ticked the Sobyanin box, but he himself is a member of the party. He stole from a factory and is now in jail for fraud. Everything has its logic.”