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Keeping Elections (EU-)Free

Were you getting excited about the upcoming elections, what with Mikhail Prokhorov threatening to make Right Cause a party to rival United Russia and Valentina Matviyenko about to take up the role of speaker in the Federation Council?  Well, hold your fire.  Yulia Latynina in the Moscow Times today, with her characteristically sharp eye for government shenanigans, picks apart the current circus that constitutes the run-up to the December State Duma elections, saying that all of these entertaining sideshows are geared towards one thing: ‘mak[ing] sure that United Russia walks away with 65.2 percent of the vote.

Latynina suggests that there is an election-related reason behind this week’s Duma bill, proposed by Federation Council Speaker Alexander Torshin, that would allow Russia to avoid complying with rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.  She also points out that Torshin will only occupy the post temporarily, as a in-betweener for Sergei Mironov and Matviyenko, the implication being that he was put there purely to get this legislation moving.

The day he was appointed to this post after Mironov’s dismissal, Torshin introduced a bill to the Duma that allows Russia not to fulfill European Court of Human Rights rulings despite the fact that Russia signed the European Convention on Human Rights in 1988 that obligates the country to subject itself to the European court’s decisions.

Clearly Torshin was trying to demonstrate his loyalty to United Russia and the Kremlin before the elections. But there is a more pragmatic reason for Torshin’s initiative if he succeeds: Opposition parties will no longer be able to challenge the Russian government in the European Court of Human Rights for illegally disqualifying them from participating in the elections.

Latynina’s piece can be read in full here.