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Russian Opposition Parties' Election Registration Difficulties Reviewed


October 31, 2011

Politics Desk report: "Yabloko Has Taken the Lead in the Number of Refusals To Register Its Ticket in the Regions"

The official registration period is over in 19 of the 27 regions where elections to the parliaments of components of the Russian Federation will be held at the same time as the State Duma election on 4 December. Yabloko has had more difficulty collecting signatures than the other non-parliamentary parties, and it was not allowed to run in the elections in six of the federation components where its ticket was certified. The campaign in Mordvinia, where only three parties are registered, is the most controversial one. Parties are filing suit and complaining to the Central Electoral Commission in Chuvashia and Novgorod Oblast.

In most of the regions where local parliamentary elections will be held at the same time as the Duma election, the registration of candidates has been completed (in 14 regions last Friday). At this stage of the campaign, the locations where non-parliamentary parties will be able to run in the elections are already apparent.

Yabloko was denied registration in six regions -- Ingushetia, Maritime Territory, Stavropol Territory, Amur Oblast, Moscow Oblast, and Altay Territory. Its lists of candidates were registered in four regions -- Perm Territory, Samara and Astrakhan oblasts, and St. Petersburg. The registration deadline has not arrived yet in five of the regions where the Yabloko ticket was certified -- Karelia and Leningrad, Pskov, and Omsk oblasts.

The Right Cause was denied registration in Mordvinia and Stavropol Territory and was registered in nine regions -- Ingushetia, Krasnoyarsk and Perm territories, Amur, Moscow, Orel, Sverdlovsk, Tomsk, and Omsk oblasts, and St. Petersburg. The party's certified lists of candidates have not been approved yet in Tyumen and Amur oblasts and Karelia. The Patriots of Russia party was denied registration in Novgorod and Orel oblasts. It was registered in nine components of the Russian Federation -- Chuvashia, Kamchatka and Perm territories, Amur, Astrakhan, Samara, Tomsk, and Tyumen oblasts, and St. Petersburg. The party's certified ticket in Omsk Oblast has not been registered yet.

Yabloko has had more difficulty than all the rest in collecting signatures and convincing electoral commissions of their validity. In some regions where the party's lists were certified, such as Maritime Territory as well as Amur, Moscow, and Omsk oblasts, Yabloko either did not collect signatures or did not collect the required amount. In other regions, the submitted signatures were rejected by electoral commissions. According to Musa Yevloyev, the head of the Ingushetian Electoral Commission, for example, Yabloko was 1,000 signatures short. "Furthermore, experts rejected 12 percent of the signatures the Yabloko members did manage to collect," he reported. Daud Garakoyev, the leader of the Yabloko members in Ingushetia, is planning to challenge the electoral commission's decision in court. As Kommersant already reported, Yabloko members believe the requirements for the collection of signatures for regional elections are unconstitutional and are drafting an appeal to the Constitutional Court. Yabloko leader Sergey Mitrokhin told Kommersant that Yabloko's low level of activity in the regions is due to its wish to concentrate on the Duma campaign.

The Patriots of Russia party is trying to challenge the refusal to register its ticket in Novgorod Oblast. As party spokesman Yevgeniy Shevchenko told Kommersant, violations were committed during the examination of the signatures, and the party also has complaints about the oblast branch of the Federal Migration Service and is planning to file a complaint with the Central Electoral Commission. The failure of the "Patriots" in the region is being blamed on the regional officials' preference for the CPRF and their consequent refusal to register the Patriots of Russia candidates to avoid splitting the electorate. The situation is the opposite in Chuvashia, where Just Russia challenged the electoral commission's decision to register Patriots of Russia, arguing that the authorities had allowed Patriots of Russia to run in spite of the party's invalid signatures.

The Right Cause, which was shaken by scandal at the start of the campaign when its leader, businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, was removed from this position, nevertheless did not drop out of the race. According to party member Andrey Bogdanov, the right-wingers are expecting fairly impressive results in Sverdlovsk, Moscow, and Amur oblasts and St. Petersburg. To put it plainly, extra seats will be reserved for the opposition in these regions (a party winning more than 5 percent but less than 7 percent of the vote will be given one or two seats).

As Kommersant already reported, the campaign has been most controversial in Mordvinia. Only three parties (United Russia, the CPRF, and the LDPR) are registered in this region, where United Russia won almost 100 percent of the vote in the last election. Just Russia took itself out of the race there because the local branch is controlled by republic leader Nikolay Merkushkin, whose name is listed at the top of the United Russia ticket. Communists in Mordvinia sent a letter to the prosecutor's office to request a ruling on statements by the head of Mordvinia, who said at one meeting with the voters that some of the candidates on the CPRF list are "individuals with connections to the criminal underworld." In addition, Valentina Zaytseva, the head of the republic CPRF committee, reported a violation of election law, which is now common in Mordvinian elections: "All of the civil servants who should have taken a leave of absence for the period of the campaign are still in their offices."

All seven of the parties registered with the Ministry of Justice will be participating in the elections in St. Petersburg and Perm Kray. In then latter, the CPRF had problems registering. Experts ascribe this to the presence of members of the Solidarity opposition group on the party's list of candidates (Vadim Chebykin, Konstantin Okunev, Vladimir Maltsev, and Gennadiy Kuzmitskiy, all deputies of the kray parliament). "The authorities have been keeping an eye on the CPRF's alliance with Solidarity since spring. There were attempts to pressure the party from above. The electoral commission is acting on the wishes of kray administration officials," Konstantin Okunev told Kommersant.

Only the parliamentary parties will be competing for deputy seats in at least seven regions (Mordvinia, Lipetsk, Vologda, Murmansk, and Novgorod oblasts, the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, and Stavropol Territory). In no region are all of the parties simultaneously backing candidates in single-seat districts, and independent candidates have been the most likely to be denied registration.

"The non-parliamentary parties are hoping to win three percent of the vote and state funding in the Duma election, and the regional campaigns help in promoting the federal brand," political analyst Mikhail Vinogradov said. "Yabloko was at least visible in the streets when the party was collecting signatures. The rest probably have administrative support."


See also:

Regional Elections 2011



October 31, 2011

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