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As Discontent Simmers, Russia’s Ruling Party Dons Camouflage in Countrywide Elections

Candidates from the ruling United Russia party are running as independents or under different banners on Sept. 8.

While the pension overhaul sent Putin’s ratings tumbling, it was his party that took the biggest hit.

“All official institutions have seen a drop in ratings, but United Russia was hit the hardest because the Kremlin placed all of the blame for pension reform on the party,” said political scientist Tatiana Stanovaya.

At the heart of the argument is whether to vote for the so-called systemic opposition parties like the Communist Party and the far-right Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, which the authorities use to allow voters to vent frustration, but which in effect do the authorities’ bidding.

But if Navalny manages to convince anti-government voters to take his strategy, Stanovaya believes it could be “dangerous” for the authorities.

“Navalny has understood the vulnerability of the regime and is attacking it head on,” she said. “For liberals, it’ll be a question of what price they are willing to pay.”

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