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On January 27, the Central Election Commission (CEC) officially denied registration
On January 27, the Central Election Commission (CEC) officially denied registration as a presidential candidate to Mikhail Kasyanov, the leader of the People's Democratic Union (PDU).

This had been expected for a long time. There were reports about too many defective lists of voters' signatures in his support as soon as the CEC started checking them.

Two verifications were made. The first one revealed 15.57% of inauthentic and invalid signatures, and the second one, 13.38%. After all details were double-checked, this figure went down to 13.6%. But it was still much bigger than the law allows - the borderline is five percent from the required two million signatures in support of a candidate.

But there are some nuances. Kasyanov's representatives maintain that only 213 signatures were faked. Other lists were rejected because they were not properly filled in or there was no information on those who collected them.

At the same time, criminal cases have been opened in the Yaroslavl Region and the Mari El Republic, where thousands rather than hundreds of signatures have been falsified. But the Kasyanov headquarters insists that collectors of votes were subjected to heavy pressure.

These results allow a choice between massive falsifications, poor teamwork and the refusal of collectors to admit anything because of heavy pressure.

Kasyanov still has a very small chance of taking part in the elections - if the Supreme Court does not support the CEC opinion. But campaign manager Konstantin Merzlikin thinks that Kasyanov will not appeal against the decision.

It is very doubtful that Kasyanov posed any danger to the authorities. His chances of winning the elections, or even getting to the second round were zero (sociological polls show that Medvedev has no serious rivals at all). Considering the tremendous ratings of Putin and Medvedev, Kasyanov was not a threat. His reputation is a source of mixed feelings even among the government's opponents. At any rate, the right-wing parties have not rushed to support him as a common democratic candidate.

There is a strange side to the story with lists of voters' signatures. The CEC noted ostentatiously passive attitudes of Kasyanov's representatives. They seemed so detached during the check-ups of signatures and the publication of results, as if they were not interested at all in how many violations the CEC had revealed.

Kasyanov's team was probably so passive for a reason. One thing is to receive a negligible percent of votes (judging by everything, he could not hope for massive support), and quite another thing is to be removed from the elections by the government, being its main opponent. These two options are giving quite different opportunities for building up political capital and a political image in general. For this reason, Kasyanov's main goal was to demonstrate his readiness to take part in the elections. At the same time, it was important for him to leave open the question of his political weight and electoral support (sociological polls are not an argument).

So, is this evidence that the government rigorously removes all objectionable nominees? Or are the latter more interested in consolidating their status of the harassed opposition than in real struggle?

It is hard to give a definite answer to this question. Now that Kasyanov has been barred from the presidential race, those who are not going to support the government's nominee have been left with quite a difficult choice. They can either vote for the losers of the previous presidential elections or place their bets on the young Andrei Bogdanov (the leader of the Democratic Party, which received less than 0.1% of votes in the parliamentary elections in December), who is posing both as a democrat and mason.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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