12:37 Apr. 4, 2016
Kremlin is changing its tactics on how to secure election victories in Russia
Numerous clever tricks and a slew of political parties loyal to Russia's government now ensure the "right" election result long before any votes are cast. And this means that the election count can be shown to be fair, and at the same time managed by individuals who are widely trusted and respected.
In the run-up to elections for Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, later this year, the Kremlin has overseen a complete shake-up of the Central Election Commission (CEC). The current CEC chair, Vladimir Churov, is notably missing: his name does not appear on the list of representatives from the Duma, the Federation Council, and the President's office who sit on the commission on equal terms.
In fact, nine of the fifteen members are new to the job. And, most importantly, the president has appointed Russia's Commissioner for Human Rights, Ella Pamfilova, to the CEC. She'll most likely become the new chair (why else would she choose to leave her current high-profile job?).
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Pamfilova's appointment to replace Churov is a shrewd political move. The opposition has long called for Churov to resign. This was one of its loudest demands at the huge rallies held at Bolotnaya and Sakharov squares in 2011.
Pamfilova is not some United Russia functionary or presidential administration official, but a widely-respected political figure. It's a clear signal. By appointing her to the CEC, the Kremlin wants to demonstrate once again that Russia has competitive, transparent and, legitimate elections.
After all, the Commissioner for Human Rights and former chair of the Council for Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights wouldn't allow the falsification of Duma election results, would she?
For the past few years, the CEC has been a one-man show. That man was Vladimir Churov. His dismissal, therefore, will be welcomed by those dissatisfied with how Russian elections were being conducted.