With the relationship between the Communists and the ruling United Russia party deteriorating, Russia’s presidential administration is unlikely to include the principal opposition faction as part of its observer training program.
That’s according to Moscow newspaper Vedomosti, which reported that the two political groups are growing further apart, with the Marxist-Leninist party considered by officials to be “out of touch.”
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) have recently become more vocal in their criticism of the Kremlin and, in particular, have attacked election processes, such as during the controversial constitutional referendum last July.
Recent polls say United Russia is set to receive 42 percent of the vote in the upcoming elections, leaving the KPRF in third place with 15 percent, behind the far-right Liberal Democratic Party of Russia with 19 percent. As things currently stand in parliament, the Communists are the second-biggest party in Russia.
A parliamentary election is due to take place in September, and the ruling faction is hoping to achieve another super-majority. In preparation, the country’s electoral commission is looking to recruit thousands of observers with a view to massively increasing monitoring.
Last month, the commission’s head Ella Pamfilova told political scientists that they have been under close scrutiny for 30 years, and have decided to be as transparent as possible.
“Interested? Go and observe,” she said, calling on parties to send their members to participate. “If the party does not have observers, then there is no party.“
However, despite Pamfilova’s invitation, an anonymous source claimed to Vedomosti that those training observers were instructed not to include people affiliated with the Communist Party, effectively excluding them from the ability to verify the election. Yabloko, a liberal party, will also apparently be kept out.
“It’s absolutely clear why the administration’s project team doesn’t want to help the Communists,” the source said. “They are considered completely out of touch in Staraya Square,” the home of Russia’s presidential administration, “especially when it comes to certain regions.”
According to Sergey Obukhov, a member of the Communist Party Central Committee, the faction isn’t interested in taking part anyway; he asserted that official observers are only needed to “legitimize” results and a United Russia super-majority.
“The authorities are worried about United Russia winning two-thirds of the seats in the Duma in September, but the Communists won’t be involved in any such legitimization effort,” Obukhov said, according to Vedomosti.
This is not the first instance of the KPRF having issues with Russian elections. Last summer, party leader Gennady Zyuganov attacked the country’s constitutional referendum, which he said was going ahead “with incomprehensible rules.” Later, in September, Zyuganov revealed that his party was refusing to accept the results of gubernatorial elections where its candidates were not allowed to run.
“We will fight for fair elections,” he said. “We will strengthen our position in all local authorities and fight for an honest, democratic, normal country.”
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