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The Kremlin’s Don’t-Get-Out-the-Vote Campaign

Russia isn’t cracking heads ahead of this weekend’s parliamentary vote—just boring people away from the polls.

By , a Moscow-based journalist covering Russia and the former Soviet Union.
SEPTEMBER 16, 2021, 11:20 AM

But voters are hardly clamoring to cast ballots in a vote that occurs only once every five years—and that some believe may soon be a relic of the past. Instead, signs of the coming election are so scant the authorities seem to be doing their utmost to ensure it passes unnoticed. Amid stagnating real wages and plunging popular support for the ruling party, United Russia, they are betting on strong turnout from a select contingent of society: members of the military and law enforcement, retirees who watch government-controlled TV, and the vast population of state workers invested in a continuation of the status quo. Everyone else, the message goes, can stay home.

“They’re ‘drying’ the turnout. If you make the elections boring, and limit discussion, people will think there is no agenda and nothing to decide, and their vote won’t change anything,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, the founder of political consultancy R.Politik. “And this is very convenient for the Kremlin.”

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