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The Russian Protests

Updated: Dec 4, 2018

Article / I write about how the Russian parliamentary elections resulted in a popular uprising.

On Monday, December 5, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) released an International Election Observation report about the Russian Federation, State Duma Elections. The report concluded that “the elections were marked by a convergence of the State and the governing party,” (the United Russia Party (UR); that the media was skewed in favor of UR, with all channels but one favoring it in their broadcasts; that “campaign materials for United Russia and voter information materials in Moscow bore a clear resemblance to one another” (they were indistinguishable); that there was “last minute pressure and intimidation of a key domestic observer group”; and that the counting process was “characterized by frequent procedural violations and instances of apparent manipulations, including several serious indications of ballot box stuffing.” (And the list went on . . .)

The report findings were nothing new in the aftermath of a Russian election day—United Russia has monopolized the Russian government since its inception in 2001, and rigged elections have become typical and expected in Russia. What was novel about the election fiasco (something that came as a huge surprise to most people who expected these elections to pass unnoticed like they tend to do in Russia), was that United Russia turned out to be so unpopular with the Russian people that even after a severe manipulation of the voting results, it still took a 15% plunge in the polls, barely raking in 50% of the vote.

In response, Russian citizens did what no one expected them to do—they took to the streets and started protesting against Prime Minister (soon to be president) Vladimir Putin and his party, chanting that he was a thief, and calling for the UR to get out of the Duma. Prior to the election it was hard to tell that a campaign was even going on in Moscow because campaign efforts, both on the part of the Kremlin, which obviously got too comfortable with its ability to manipulate votes, and from the opposition, which did not see any chance of success, were so feeble. But, the election that was supposed to pass by without so much as the bat of an eye from the Russian people, ended up piercing through their apathy and igniting a real movement.

Read the article in Construction.


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