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Electoral Campaign in Russia: Most Colourful Moments
March 2, 2012 14:47

Many analysts say this election campaign was rather traditional for Russia's political system and didn't have any striking elements. Both current authorities and opposition candidates acted in their usual way, repeating the same slogans and giving the same promises as four years before. However, there are surely some deep and global changes in general situation. The society's mind and political attitude is changing gradually, people begin waking up and taking part in political actions. Protest activity growth, as well as public discontent. And the authorities have to consider these new rules of the game.
 In fact, the campaign itself started long before February 4. In a way, it did not stop with the State Duma elections, even though the New Year holidays and severe colds dampened the degree of political activity. So, the electoral campaignonly became its logical continue.

Press and the Internet
Besides usual agitation materials and propaganda newspapers published for account of candidates' campaign funds, there was a brand new element - the articles which Vladimir Putin formulated as his action program. On the whole, there were six articles published in different Russian newspapers, each of them was dedicated to some key statement of the program.
Other candidates didn't write articles, but afforded an opportunity to their helpers o publish materials about the candidates's work and achievements. There were also leaflets and banners in support of one candidate or another.
  The Internet showed more creativity than other media sources. Users took part in contests for the best agitation banner for their candidate, joined special groups in social network services and had heated discussions on forums. Agitation video in the Internet also was very popular and debatable point. For example, Russian well-known singers Andrei Makarevich and Alla Pugacheva created a song about candidate Mikhail Prokhorov. The main idea is that "if you were born the tallest you just can see more than others". The Internet users still can't decide if that song is very smart or just stupid.

Political Meetings
The new trend of this political season is a wave of mass opposition protests, which were some of the largest in the country's post-Soviet history. There was no a week without any protest action made by one or another opposition force. The biggest of them, in the Bolotnaya Square, gathered about 100,000 participants.
But here as well, pro-Putin forces sought to counter the unprecedented wave of public activism, organizing rallies so well attended -- some by more than 130,000 people -- they prompted accusations that the authorities were using administrative resources to build sizable, if less than enthusiastic, crowds. There are some evidences from people who said, they were paid to come to the meeting.
Participants at a similar pro-Putin rally held at Luzhniki Stadium on February 23 indicated they were not even certain whom they were meant to be supporting. However, the both meetings was held successfully, with good organization, press attention and participating Russia's public persons.

Agitation on TV
Agitation videos for TV could be probably considered the most boring part of this campaign. All the candidates used usual and banal schemes, with slogans and speeches that weren't able to surprise anyone. Only Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his expressive manner of presenting his ideas has become a kind of amusement for his potential voters. The most scandalous video of his videos showed Vladimir Zhirinovsky sitting in a traditional Russian troika and putting a harness on a donkey, which was presented as a symbol of Russia. "When I become president, things will get moving again!", said Zhirinovsky, as the sledge gradually got moving. The video aroused much discontent of animals defenders and common people.
Other candidates were more traditional in their presentations.
Putin's campaign team were running videos under the slogan "Why I am voting for Vladimir Putin" featuring celebrity supporters including star conductor Valery Gergiev, Oleg Tabakov and other celebrities.

Debates 2012 can be considered the most interesting part of the campaign, as they attracted much attention of the public. However, candidate Putin controversially refused to take part in debates in which all the other candidates are due to cross swords. During debates he was presented by his authorized delegates. In his turn, Mikhail Prokhorov refused to speak to these persons and also sent his delegates for debates with Putin's people. The other candidates presented themselves. The biggest amount of scandals was again linked with the name of candidate Zhirinovsky, who had always been a very hard person for arguing with. Debates of Zhirinovsky and Russian pop-singer Alla Pugacheva, Mikhail Prokhorov's delegate, ended with mutual insult. Pugacheva called Zhirinovsky boor and jester, and he retorted calling her prostitute and “the nation's shame”

Law Violation
The officials insist this election campaign was the fairest for the whole Russian history, as all the candidates held themselves within the framework of law. However, observers in Russia and abroad saying the run-up to the country's presidential elections on March 4 has been riddled with blatant violations of legal campaign conduct, including the failure to register opposition candidates, forced participation in political rallies, and television coverage skewed wildly in favor of the favored candidate, the current Prime Minister. But, of course, such statements doesn't have any power unless they are proved. However, the question about the legitimacy of the presidential vote is currently in the wind. 

Everyone who follows the political situation in Russia can understand that even traditional democratic elections in this country have many unique traits. Unlike a regular election - where the most important result is who wins - in this election the most important result will be what happens to the incipient protest movement in different Russian cities. If the election takes the wind out of the sails of the movement, then Russia can largely expect more of the same. If the protests continue and increase in size, then changes are likely ahead for Russian politics. So, we surely can say that, regardless of the election's result, the most interesting processes in Russian politics just start.

Sources: valdaiclub
Julia Alieva

Author: Julia Alieva

Tags: Russian politics     

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