Popov: Putin’s “Crimea Consensus” won the State Duma elections


September 19, 2016 – 

By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ – translated by J. Arnoldski

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The results of elections to the State Duma of Russia are practically complete. The four parties that were represented earlier have made it into the Duma again. As of 17:15 Moscow time, United Russia (whose leader is Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev) has received 54.19%, the Communist Party has won 13.35%, Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party has claimed 13.16%, while A Just Russia received 6.21% of the vote. Even if the election results were to change, then only to an entirely insignificant extent, to one-tenth of a percent.

Allow us to draw several conclusions on the election results.

First of all, these results were predictable. I forecasted that United Russia would 53-54% and was not mistaken. However, I was wrong in believing that the communists would get no less than 18-19%. Undoubtedly, the party’s double-faced members played a negative role for the KPRF. According to the party’s leader, Gennady Zyuganov, they deprived the party of 4% of the vote.

As a citizen and patriot of Russia, I am disturbed by the still high percentage of votes cast for the “parties of national defeatism”, first and foremost Yabloko (which won 3% of the vote). According to the Central Electoral Commission, the results of this party were much higher in Moscow – as much as 12%. In my opinion, this party, which consistently holds Russophobic and pro-Ukrainian positions, should have been subjected to public ostracism. After all, Yabloko’s leader, G. Yavlinsky, was a mediocre economist in the past and now plays the role of a wishy-washy politician on the Russian political scene who has called for Russia to apologize to Kiev for the “annexation” of Crimea. These statements have finally put Russia’s liberals into a marginal niche. As Dostoevsky said: “The Russian liberal is he who hates Russia.” Such personalities as Anatoly Chubais and Grigory Yavlinsky confirm this maxim.

All the parties that surpassed the 5% threshold and some of those who were close to breaking it (except Yabloko) can be referred to as the parties of the “Crimean consensus.” In my opinion, President Vladimir Putin was wrong to state after the proclamation of election results that society had supported United Russia. Russian society supported very different parties, and United Russia itself was supported by only 54% of voters. I would instead say that society supported the course of President Putin in defending Russia’s independence and increasing its defense capability in anticipation of a probable large-scale war. Dividing people into “right” and “wrong” patriots is a fundamental mistake. Among my friends and acquaintances, it would be hard to find anyone who voted for United Russia, and yet I understand the motives of people’s support for the party.

President Putin himself, however, did in the end best summarize the election results with two conclusions. The first conclusion was that society did not succumb to pressure from the West. The votes cast for the circle of parties of the “Crimean consensus” and the failure of the parties of “national defeatism” confirm this thesis. In Putin’s words, the results of the vote “are a reaction by our citizens to attempts at externally pressuring Russia, threats, sanctions, and attempts to destabilize the situation in our country from within.”

Commenting on the preliminary elections results, Putin also called them an “advance” which the people have given the government which “needs to be worked for.” As follows, the second conclusion is that the “right” government, if it will pursue the “wrong” policies, can and should be quickly replaced. If we recall the recent series of resignations of ministers in Medvedev’s government, then this statement should not look like an empty threat.

In my opinion, the series of cadre changes in Russia have not ended with parliamentary elections. The radical purge of the elite will definitively depend on the international, military-political situation. 

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