The Moscow Elections, 8 Sept 2013

Discussion in 'Russian Politics' started by AKarlin, Jul 29, 2013.

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Who would you vote for as Mayor of Moscow?

Poll closed Sep 2, 2013.
  1. Sergey Sobyanin

    66.7%
  2. Alexei Navalny

    11.1%
  3. Ivan Melnikov

    22.2%
  4. Mikhail Degtyaryov

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Nikolai Levichev

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. Sergey Mitrokhin

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. Other - clarify

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    As it happens VTsIOM published its final opinion poll for the Moscow election on Monday. It gave Navalny 11% of total respondents - exactly the same as for its previous poll. In fact there has been barely any change in the overall rankings. The only candidate who is continuing to gain ground (at Sobyanin's expense) is Melnikov who has increased his share from 2% to 6% of total respondents over the course of the campaign. If there were more time it's possible that Melnikov might overtake Navalny but I have to say that doesn't for the moment look to me very likely. As it is, and I say this though I like Melnikov and wish him well, I am afraid an increase from 2% to 6% hardly represents a breakthrough. The truth is that any KPRF candidate would struggle against Sobyanin who is most popular with precisely those voters who are most likely to support the KPRF candidate.

    The two big Russian polling agencies have now in recent days each released polling figures. Levada gives Navalny 10% of total respondents and VTsIOM 11%. VTsIOM predicts Navalny will get 15.7% of total votes on election day. Levada gives him 16% of undecided voters and 18% of decided voters. Both Levada and VTsIOM predict a comfortable victory for Sobyanin in the first round. The third and newest polling agency, which is connected to Ipsos and which is less well established, gives Navalny slightly higher ratings - 13% of total respondents and 19% on election day.

    An 18-19% vote for Navalny would be in line with what Yavlinsky got in Moscow in the Presidential election of 2000 and what Prokhorov got in the Presidential election of 2012. At the moment it looks to be the absolute ceiling beyond which no liberal candidate in Moscow can go. With a weak challenge from Melnikov even on Ipsos's figures Sobyanin should win comfortably in the first round.

    We are now less than a week away from the election and I can't see the results shifting much.
  2. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

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    Konstantin Sonin (Vice Rector, Moscow Higher School of Liberalism Economics) has a wowser of a post up at The Moscow Times, entitled, "Why Putin Might Want Navalny as Mayor". Moscow Exile is right, the MT is pulling out all the stops for Navalny as the last few days wind down before the election.

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/why-putin-might-want-navalny-as-mayor/485546.html

    He starts out by suggesting the debate over how many votes Navalny might get is unimportant - which is convenient, I must say, since he is about to get his ass handed to him - because "the leading polling firms have too low a reputation to rely on their findings". Ever notice how unreliable firms are that will not shout that Navalny is winning? Well, never mind that.

    Mr. Sonin goes on to say that a Mayor Navalny would provide balance because he hates the government, and honestly, truly, that would do no harm at all because a Mayor Navalny would have to work with federal agencies and businesses whether he likes it or not, and he would be mostly too busy running the city to insult Putin too much anyway. But he saved the real sweetener for last...if Navalny wins the mayoral race, Putin will not have to worry about Navalny becoming president, because no mayor of Moscow who was really a Muscovite would be likely to get elected President!! Boris Yeltsin and Nikita Kruschev do not count, because although they did serve as mayor of Moscow, they were not Muscovites.

    This feeds into the myth that Putin must box clever with Navalny and maybe occasionally give him what he wants, because he fears the possibility of having to go up against him for the presidency. Better to placate him and his hamsters, make him mayor of some nice little town like Moscow, just to keep him busy and to make sure he would not be president. Did you ever hear the like? Leave your reality at the door, please.
  3. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Yeah, I've just this minute read that Sonin piece.

    The mind boggles!

    So does that of Zigfield as well, judging by her comment.

    Since when have the leading Russian pollsters had "too low a reputation"?

    I'm talking about the past 22 years, not the Soviet era.

    It's that old Western stigmatization of Russian statistics again: all data out of the Evil Empire is unreliable, not to be trusted, false - unless, of course, it matches ours.

    I notice too that Sonin is yet another member of an economics school in Moscow. How many of these places are there?
  4. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    It is actually quite worrying since saying that the figures of polling agencies (including presumably Levada and Ipsos) is only a small step from saying that the election results themselves have been falsified. In fact the article discusses that very possibility.

    The one point I would say is that the idea of Moscow Times "pulling out all the stops" in the Moscow mayoral election is actually quite funny. Given the size of its readership (not to mention the size of its Russian readership) how many stops does it have to pull?

    PS: All the liberal commentary seems to come from just two economic schools. The economics department of the Higher School of Economics and the New Economics School. Russia has plenty of other economics departments including presumably one at MGU and I understand that some of the people who work in some of them are highly regarded but it is testimony to the way news is reported that it is the economics department of the Higher School of Economics and the New Economics School that get all the attention.
  5. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    The readership of MT is zilch in Moscow. Only yesterday evening at KPMG I picked up a freebie issue of the rag. That was at 7 p.m. There were still three great piles of the paper there at reception at that time. As is my wont, I quickly scanned through it: nothing of interest apart from the £/ruble exchange rate, which is what I wanted to check.

    The four junior auditors whom I was to meet - all highly educated, bourgeois, well travelled and with a very good command of English - noticed the MT and asked if I regularly read it. I told them I did not. They then asked me what I thought of it. After first having said that I thought there was nothing wrong with constructive criticism and that there is much to be criticised in Russia, I told them that I found the endless hyper-critical, carping, insulting and down right rude articles about Russia in that paper extremely irritating and that in my opinion it was only a propaganda sheet directed from Washington.

    They agreed with me entirely.

    However, the MT presents itself as the English language daily in Moscow, which is true, albeit nobody reads it. More importantly, MT is presented outside of Russia to non-Russians as being an authoritative source on Russian affairs.

    Tin-Tin of the Guardian used to refer to MT.

    In fact, Tin-Tin used to plagiarize from it.

    And today in Kremlin Stooge, "Misha"reports that:


    "This evening’s BBC World telecast had a segment sampling foreign media. Up to a point, every country was represented by a major venue within the respective nation. Russia was represented by The Moscow Times."

    It was in the Moscow Times, you see - so it must be true!


  6. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

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    Let's start our own English-language Russian newspaper!!! We can make fun of the Moscow Times!! How easy would that be? How many Russians would read an English-language newspaper if it were available and wasn't just an NGO roll-call insult megaphone?
  7. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    I reckon many would read it. They started an English language radio station here recently and I know several Russians in their 20s and 30s that listen to it. However, I knew a businessman here about 15 years ago who was thinking of starting up such a station, but after doing some research, he decided it would be financially non-viable. The Exile was well read, however, and missed by many young Russians, chiefly, in my opinion, because it was so scurrilous a sheet: I got the opinion that many Russian readers of Exile only did so only in order to learn vulgar English expressions in the mistaken belief that the use of obscenities in a foreign language was a yardstick for fluency. In any case, I was frequently asked to explain the meanings of obscenities to Russian readers of Exile.

    To go back to Sonin's MT article mentioned above, in which he wrote that Russian public opinion research organizations have "too low a reputation", it is clear to me that such statement is part of the preparations to deride the coming mayoral election result in Moscow. The real "opposition" to the present "regime" in Russia, namely the powers that be in Washington, know full well that the counter argument to its endless claims of blatant vote rigging in the Evil Empire is the data collected by such organizations before the elections here as well as exit-poll data, and that such data verifies that in recent years falsification of elections has declined considerably and that after having adjusted for obviously false returns from parts of the Caucasus and Moldavia, the elections results here have been in accordance with pollsters' predictions. The result of this indisputable fact in Washington and elsewhere is, therefore, to deride the pre- and post-election data of the pollsters here.

    In short, if team Washington doesn't win in Russia, then the vote was fixed.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  8. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

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    Well, come on, then; let's start planning it. We'll get some rich patriotic oligarch to fund it, and you will have to be the editor because you are physically present. Somebody rich will have to pay for it, because we'll want to offer free advertising to the business community at least initially, so more people will read it. I just don't have the knowledge of current events in Moscow to pull off something like that. We can call it "The Moscow Times Are Goats", and have a big masthead picture of Alexey, the Moscow Times goat at the top. Besides the local editor and a small staff of, say, two stunning girls to handle print and copy work, other staff members could really be anywhere in the world, thanks to the internet. We could offer anyone from the opposition - like The Moscow Times, Novaya Gazeta and the New Times, or anyone else who can write in English, one free column a week in which they can say anything they like - so our material will be balanced...but the following week we will make fun of it. I can write some of the mockery pieces, I enjoy that sort of thing as you could probably tell. But there will have to be real content, restaurant reviews and business profiles, plus all the info stuff you read a paper for like the weather forecast and currency exchange and stuff like that. The rule will be that it's perfectly OK to criticize, but if you do you have to propose a workable solution to fix the problem you criticized. No "Russia is the most corrupt country in the world according to Transparency International" stuff. Unless we want to use it to make fun of somebody. And it has to be completely in English, so that people will learn English from reading it. In fact, we should offer links to free English lessons, there are plenty on the web. An easy weekly crossword, in English. Once we have destroyed The Moscow Times and sent them home with a rupture, Moscow is our oyster. But we have to figure out how to make money from it once it gets going - stunning office girls don't come cheap.
  9. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    By the way, as regards the MT circulation, I've just come back from the Holiday Inn Hotel at Sokol'niki, where I picked up a freebie International Herald Tribune, and guess what was inside - a Moscow Times. And there on the front page of IHT is a banner, reading: Moscow Times inside.

    See: Sanoma Independent Media

    This was in the IHT that I picked up today, a reprint from the opinion page of the New York Times: "What Sir William Would Do in Syria".

    Nice argument, but notice how at the very beginning its authors beg the question as regards who are the guilty parties involved:

    "The use of nerve gas in Syria is abhorrent, and those within the Syrian military command who ordered it are war criminals."

    Case proven , m'lud?
  10. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    According to the Moscow Times, the upcoming Moscow mayoral election is simply "an attempt at boosting the legitimacy of the state" and "... Moscow’s mayoral race is the government’s attempt at a more-or-less fair, legitimate election – a show of democracy that may mollify the opposition while posing no real threat to the Kremlin".

    A certain Professor Sarah Oates (a "scholar in the field of political communication and democratization" no less!) of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism and an "expert on Russian political campaigns" is quoted in the article as saying:

    "The mayoral elections are manipulation at its best. You allow a contender to run, you have a façade of democracy, then lock him away and send a message to anyone who would want to do the same."

    And a certain Sean Roberts of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, has, according to MN, written:

    The extraordinary efforts to give the election a modicum of legitimacy do little to distract from the increasingly dysfunctional electoral process.

    Oh golly gosh! How awful!

    See: "Election Season: Voting for Moscow Mayor"

    It's the Soviet Union again, I tell you!

    Putin is Stalin!

    America, please save us or we are all doomed!!!!!
  11. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    In other words Navalny is going to go down in flames and Sobyanin is going to win.

    Let me say it again, this was an uninspiring election campaign largely because the two leading candidates are such weak candidates. Sobyanin is an able functionary but not a politician whilst Navalny is a political amateur and has views and affiliations that make him unacceptable to the vast majority of Russians. Had Sobyanin been faced with a more convincing candidate there might have been a genuine contest. What foisting Navalny on the election has done is ensure that Sobyanin wins. Though the western media, western pundits and the white ribbon opposition endlessly call for greater openness in Russian electoral contests their own actions actually prevent it.
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  12. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

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    Serves the west right for not backing Melnikov instead, who is a politician and who might have caught fire with the right support and campaigning. But the west put all its eggs in the Navalny basket - stubbornly - because it tries the same revolution-incitement package over and over. And we all know the quote about those who try the same approach repeatedly while expecting a different result.

    I'm not sure how the balloting process works in mayoral elections, but in presidential and Duma elections each person actually has to sign for their ballot individually. The opportunities for ballot-stuffing and carousel voting are actually much, much less than the play-it-by-rote western media loves to portray, and vote-rigging plays a much lesser part as a consequence in the outcome. Sure, the crazy percentages in the Caucasus are always good for a smirk, but there are abundant instances of eyebrow-raising results among outliers in any recent western election you care to name. Russia has gone to a placatory system with international monitors such that when doubt is expressed over a particular ballot-box, it is just junked without its votes contributing to the total. It never seems to alter the outcome much, but the raucous shouts about vote-rigging continue nonetheless, and the west is plainly getting its game together - is already laying the groundwork - to do it again.

    Oates is not only a "scholar in the field of political communication and democratization", she is recognized as an expert in the role of the media and the internet in democratization, and the author of a forthcoming book, "Revolution Stalled - The Political Limits of the Internet in the Post-Soviet Sphere".

    http://www.merrill.umd.edu/deadline/index.php/2012/08/20/merrill-welcomes-new-professor-sarah-oates/

    If Navalny truly was able to run a "western-style campaign" complete with a whisper element, a last-minute manufactured scandal involving his oppponent (when it was too late for voters to confirm it, but only react to an imaginary question, "Do you want a womanizer/pedophile/rapist/drug addict to be your next mayor?"), push polls, robocalls, phone jamming, unlimited funding by corporations (now that corporations are recognized as "persons" under the law) and vote-machine tampering, there's little doubt he could give Sobyanin a run for his money and perhaps even beat him. And it is precisely this sort of advantage Oates is arguing for under the cover of "democratization" - the ability to implant the leader of choice through manipulation. I mean, that's the way it's done in western democracies. And they're free, ain't they? Western elections, for all the twittering about choice and freedomfreedomfreedom and one-man-one-vote, bear a similar resemblance to true democracy as chalk does to cheese.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  13. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Here are pictures of all the events on the last day of canvassing yesterday. No canvassing allowed during the last 2 days before the election.

    Taken from Snob, the rag that Kichanova scribbles for. Go to the linked site to see the set of pictures taken at all the candidates' events.

    Navalny was still punching his fist into the air:

    [​IMG]

    And, assembled on Prospekt Sakharov, part of the 22% that are, according to some polls, going to vote for him on Sunday:

    [​IMG]

    Hundreds of thousands?

    What if there's heavy rain on Sunday as well?

    By the way, the fellows in black garb are not Dominican monks: they’re Moscow cops in their rain-wear: it's been pissing down here all week.
  14. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    So apparently Navalny is voting at precinct No. 1488. Yes, that 1488... ;)

    But before you all get hot and bothered under your collars, note that that is where he is legitimately registered.
  15. Mark Sleboda

    Mark Sleboda Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    My wife is giving me regular updates of an example of the election in microcosm - she is a Voting Commissioner in the SE of Moscow today, representing her party KPRF.

    She also maintains status as a 'mole' in one of the so-called 'election observers', 'Citizen Observer, a still active - sister organization/clone of Golos - also entirely populated with rabidly partisan liberasts.

    Just one tidbit - they are furious that most of the officials overseeing the elections across the country, as usual, are schoolteachers. As far as they are concerned all schoolteachers are Kremlin agents, just one step removed from the 'KGB' as they put it in their internal email - because they are public servants and not good honest people working for a corporation like the hamochki...These schoolteachers, mostly older women, are all involved in rigging the elections according to the Citizen Observer higher ups.

    These 'observers' have only a half a day of training, and being ignorant and partisan, spend the entire election day creating a confrontational atmosphere with the election staff (the 'teachers') and scream 'fraud' at everything they do not understand (which is essentially everything). They create big problems and delays at the voting stations as things are patiently explained to them.

    In the last Duma and Presidential elections, according to my wife, at the end of the voting day, they got together in a room- sure that the elections must be rigged when the vote went against the liberal candidates, because 'they don't know anyone who voted for Putin', etc - so convinced that there must be vote rigging, when they couldn't actually find any real evidence of it, they sat together and brainstormed about how it could have been done - and then sent in a bunch of reports with this entirely made up bullshit. That's the 'evidence' of fraud that you hear reported about.
    Alexander Mercouris likes this.
  16. Joshua

    Joshua Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    who cares if he looks "Nordic" Russians are Slavs and we should be proud of it, but i have to say you tend to find more "Nordic" looking features in Russians (blonde hair, blue eyes) in than you would with Krauts in Germany.
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  17. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    My three children are all "Nordid" looking: all fair haired, light skinned and blue-eyed, but my wife is dark haired and has dark eyes. My children are certainly proud of being Russian and don't like it when I tell them that legally they are British as well.
  18. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    None of what you say surprises me but it is interesting and useful to know.

    What these people combine is an extraordinary and unwarranted sense of entitlement with an equally extraordinary and equally unwarranted sense of grievance. That of course should disqualify them from working as election observers.
  19. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    It's 20:50 here in Moscow now and Navalny's big day is almost over. ITAR-TASS predicted a 50% turnout this morning at 10:00 and reported no serious violations:

    MOSCOW, September 8. / ITAR-TASS /. As of 10:00 Moscow time 1.93% of Muscovites had voted in the city mayoral election, stated at a press conference the chairman of the Moscow City Election Commission,Valentin Gorbunov. According to him, no serious violations had been registered ... Earlier, the public observer headquarters also reported that there had been no serious election violations in Moscow. Moscow City Election Commission (Mosgorizbirkom) predicts a turnout at 50%. In the December 2003 city mayor election, 3.46% of city dwellers had already turned out to vote by 10 am.

    Will the predicted low turnout up the Chosen One's percentage of votes, I wonder?

    You can bet, though, that there'll be plenty of complaints tomorrow at Bolotnaya, where the hamsters have been allowed to assemble in order to claim that they have been cheated of victory.

  20. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    I understand that turnout at 6 pm (two hours before the polling stations closed) was just 30%.

    Anyway the first exit polls have been trickling in and if they are to be believed then I am afraid it will be Mark who will be washing Anatoly's car. Whilst all three exit polls I have seen give Sobyanin more than 50%, which gives him victory in the first round, they all give Navalny around 30%. That is more than even his most optimistic predictions. I am fairly sure by the way that that was a reflection of the poor turnout. That in turn is surely the result of the dismal (non) campaign Sobyanin has run. It's all very well for Putin to say that he wants apolitical technicians to run big cities, but elections are political events and need politicians to win them. It is surely no accident that Putin's electoral problems in Moscow began the moment Medvedev fired Luzhkov. Whatever else he was Luzkhov is a politician, which Sobyanin isn't.

    One unequivocally good piece of news is that everyone including Golos says that the vote was clean.
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