Parties use dirty campaign tactics as regional elections near

Regional polls are seen as rehearsal for the December parliamentary elections
The Secretary of Russia’s Central Election Commission, Nikolay Konkin, has accused parties of unfair play and suggested organizing a round table before the next elections.

­On 13 March, voters in 12 regions will choose deputies of legislative bodies. The poll is considered a general rehearsal for the parliamentary elections scheduled for December.

The current political campaign is far from being fair, Nikolay Konkin said on Thursday. These elections could not be called honest from the point of view of political competition, he noted.

The Election Commission has been receiving “enormous amount of complaints” from regions. Many parties have used dirty caricatures and hints at emblems of rival parties in their campaigns. They are aimed at regional heads or members of local election commissions, Konkin noted.

He proposed that parties that will run in parliamentary elections should organize a round table. They could agree on proper methods of campaigns “so as not to breach certain human and moral rules.”  

Foreign diplomats from at least 18 states will see how the rules of the game will work on the day of voting on March 13. Representatives of embassies from the US, Brazil, India, Spain, Belarus, Ukraine and other countries will attend the information center of the Central Election Commission. The polls will be also attended by 13 private election experts from the European Union.

Pillow as political argument

Meanwhile, Russian political parties have stepped up their rhetoric on the eve of the regional elections, anticipating the December campaign. Sergey Neverov, secretary of the presidium of the ruling United Russia’s general council, did not rule out that two of the four current parliamentary parties will not make it to the State Duma.

The politician assumed that the Liberal Democratic Party, led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and the Fair Russia party of the upper house’s speaker, Sergey Mironov, may fail in December. They could be replaced by the liberal Right Cause party if it carries out a good campaign, he told journalists on Thursday.  

Neverov also complained about tough campaigns of many parties during the spring campaign. Sometimes the tactics go beyond legal limits, he said.

Earlier Fair Russia’s head described the actions of United Russia during the regional campaign as “election terror.” Elements of this campaign were directed at Mironov himself. In Kursk, a youth threw a pillow at him. And while the Federation Council’s speaker was heading to Tver, he was met by a crowd of young people who were nominating him for “the United Nations chairman.”

“They do not even know that the UN has the Secretary-General,” Mironov told Gazeta.ru. He explained the dirty campaign by United Russia’s fears for its majority in regional parliaments.

But the ruling party’s representatives have accused Fair Russia itself of unfair campaign, saying it “has failed” in a number of regions. In other places, “Fair Russia is planning to show any tangible result, using dirty techniques and scandals,” Aleksey Chesnakov, head of United Russia’s public council, said in a statement.