October 11, 2018


Moscow failures see Putin's men lose in Russian Far East (GIOVANNI PIGNI OCTOBER 4, 2018, Asia Times)

[P]utin's candidates failed to win gubernatorial elections in the two largest administrative regions of the Far Eastern Federal District: the Maritime Territory and Khabarovsk Region.

This sends a clear signal to the Kremlin.

Despite massive political attention, state subsidies and high profile investments including spaceports and shipyards, Moscow has failed to effectively address multiple socio-economic problems affecting the region.

The Russian Far East lies in close proximity to economic powerhouses China, Japan and South Korea, but continues to suffer population drain, high levels of corruption, poor infrastructure and a standard of living that is among the lowest in the country.

"I think everything will be fine," is what Putin told his candidate Andrey Tarasenko, as he prepared to run against Communist Andrey Ishchenko for the gubernatorial post of the Maritime Territory, the district's largest region.

Things turned out differently. With 95% of the vote counted, Ischenko was clearly ahead. Tarasenko came out the winner in the final result, but only due to to a display of election rigging so blatant that it was unacceptable even by Russian standards. The Central Election Committee was left with no choice but to invalidate the election.

In Khabarovsk, an even more straightforward failure awaited United Russia candidate and sitting Governor Vyacheslav Shport. He lost to Sergei Frugal of the Liberal Democrats.

Communists and Liberal Democrats are the two main constituents of the "systemic opposition" which give Russia the appearance of a functioning democracy without posing a real threat to the hegemonic rule of the pro-Putin United Russia party.

The fact that Putin's candidates lost against representatives of the systemic opposition is interpreted by many as a consequence of the highly unpopular pension reform promoted by United Russia.

But others warn that grievances about the rise of the retirement age are adding up to a pre-existing, much deeper discontent about how Moscow has been administering the country's remotest region.

Posted by at October 11, 2018 4:39 AM