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An arranged marriage

Novaya Gazeta

January 25, 2012

Voters signatures to register Grigory Yavlinsky were rejected, because the authorities dont need an excessive amount of competition in the first ballot.

Grigory Yavlinskys being disqualified from the race for the presidency could be seen a mile away; however, as often happens in Russian politics, many observers were expecting different developments to take place, such as back on 23 September when they expected that on 24 September Medvedev would be declared a presidential candidate, and not Vladimir Putin. Russia, as unpredictable as it is, is painfully predictable politically. Here the miracles and anomalies have not taken place in the past 12 years.

True, the second round for verifying the signatures for the Yabloko leader is underway, but there arent any doubts even in the party that this is just an awkward gesture to a seasoned politician.

The disappearance of an alternative, at that a real alternative in Yavlinsky, is a sign that the authorities are not going to make any concessions. No one is going to conduct a re-count of the State Duma election outcome, there isnt going to be any round-table talks with the opposition or fair, honest presidential elections; there wont be an interim parliament or technical president, that together approve political reforms and announce new Duma and presidential elections. None of this is going to happen. What we will have is a re-run with Putin as the head of state and Medvedev as the head of the government. We are going to have a country that clearly didnt wake up enough in December 2011 for the supreme leader to pay attention to it, a leader that, harking back to the terminology of the Perestroika era, the aggressive and obedient majority is willing to support.

Yavlinsky suffered more than others in this race, if only because hes no fake politician. If only because his supporters votes had already once been stolen during the State Duma elections. If only because the liberal electorate saw him as a real alternative to all the politicians who depicted themselves as the opposition to His Majesty, including Yavlinsky-like substitutes such as Mikhail Prokhorov.

We wont even address the fairness of those suspicions of Prokhorov being a spoiler candidate, only a much more significant one than Dmitry Mezentsev. The fact, nonetheless, remains that not the whole electorate of Yavlinsky is ready to vote for Prokhorov, Sergei Mironov or Gennady Zyuganov. Many of them just wont go vote at all, which is exactly what the government needs during the vote on 4 March: a low voter turn-out that increases Putins chances of winning without having a run-off election.

As it turns out, Mezentsev was needed not to legitimise Putins candidacy should Putin end up alone, but to create the mirage that the Central Election Commission is fair, as if saying: Look, Yavlinsky is not the only one denied registration because of the signatures gathered in his favour, Mezentsev shared his fate.

Rejected signatures are nothing more than an arranged marriage that yet again is decreasing the level of political competition in the country and effacing the legitimacy of the forecasted victory for Putin and his wonderful majority, whom he prohibits from calling sheep.

The protest slogan, You dont even represent us, is taking a new, even more resonant sound. Putin heard the peoples cries, and removing Yavlinsky from the race is his answer to the enraged people. Of all the current official offline politicians today, Yavlinsky is the most popular among the protesters. The Levada Centre held a poll of people at the protest rally at Prospekt Sakharova that showed that 29% of the people in attendance were willing to vote for Yavlinsky in the presidential election.

Yavlinskys mishap is sobering. The idealism of December 2011 has been exhausted. The protesters are no longer dealing with an impervious government their demands were heard loud and clear , but with a government that is unequivocally opposing the best people in our country.

Whats your take on Grigory Yavlinsky being stricken from taking part in the presidential elections?

Gennady ZYUGANOV, presidential candidate:

The way I see it, Yavlinsky is going to be removed from the ballot unlawfully, because he obviously is going to criticise the governments financial and economic policies. So now they are trying to eliminate yet another competitor. We, in turn, expressed our bewilderment and believe that Mr Churov is in no way entitled to remove anyone from the elections, since otherwise you get the impression that he heads not the Central ElectionCommission, but the Fraud Committee.

Mikhail PROKHOROV, presidential candidate:

Grigory Yavlinskys possible disqualification deprives him of the opportunity to propose what he stands for to voters, while a large number of people are stripped of the opportunity to have someone represent their views in the government.

I myself have had to experience the whole process of collecting signatures, and honestly, I have to say that it in essence is detrimental and prohibitive for a candidate. The electoral laws rules regarding this are extremely hard to satisfy, and that goes for anyone who is nominating themselves to take part in an election. What you get from this is an unlevel playing field. Moreover, the means for gathering signatures are such that any and all candidates are exposed to possible harassment

Sergei MIRONOV, presidential candidate:

As a Russian citizen and presidential candidate, I am going to take it very personally if they disqualify Grigory Yavlinsky, although he was an opponent of mine. We know perfectly well what it is like to collect two million signatures, and its unlikely that Mr Prokhorov did everything by the rule book while Yavlinsky didnt. This could be an attempt to do away with an undesirable candidate. As for the Central Elections Committee, this is just a continuation of their games that we witnessed during the State Duma elections, which I believe were unfair


See also:

The original publication

Presidential Elections 2012



Novaya Gazeta

January 24, 2012

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