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Russian presidential election

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Post 17 Mar 2018, 00:55
Quick election update guys:

The final debate before the election turned stupid after - get this, the 'Communists of Russia' party's candidate Maxim Suraykin almost got into a fist fight with Maxim Shevchenko, representative of the KPRF's candidate Pavel Grudinin.

Here's what happened: Grudinin is the owner of this farm outside Moscow, and in addition to good pay, good schooling for kids and other benefits, his farm gives workers an opportunity to buy an apartment at a heavily subsidized price. Some years back, he and this family of workers got into a legal battle, with them demanding not a subsidized mortgage, but a free apartment, and took him to court. After losing, the family has been spreading their version of the story everywhere they could, including the local gossip shows, with no one really paying much attention.

Until now. After Grudinin became the KPRF's candidate, and his popularity began to grow, the federal television channels and a lot of print media have been working like crazy looking for dirt on this guy - about his children from another woman, about his son's 'villa' (really just an ordinary house) in Spain, about his bank accounts overseas (which he can't legally have, or else the electoral commission wouldn't allow him to run), and of course, about this 'poor family which he threw out into the street' (even though it's since been revealed that they're living comfortably with multiple properties).

On Thursday, at the last debate, Suraykin, whom the KPRF consider a spoiler, invited the mother from this disgruntled family into the live, televised debate, even though the electoral commission doesn't allow this sort of rule-bending, to challenge Grudinin. Grudinin decided not to respond, leaving his official representative Maxim Shevchenko to do so for him. Shevchenko pointed out that what Suraykin did broke the rules and went on the attack reminding viewers that Suraykin had traveled to Kiev just a few days ago, and called him a 'Banderist provocateur'.

And that's why Suraykin began screaming and threatening to break Shevchenko's jaw before he was led out of the studio. Shevchenko is this big, burly guy, who recently nearly punched out liberal big shot journalist Nikolai Svanidze on a radio show after the latter threw a swing at him. So he just stood there unflinching as Suraykin approached (you can see that in the video).

Grudinin's supporters are calling Suraykin's decision to use this woman as the final proof that he's just a Kremlin pawn.


All I can add is that it's a fitting end to a campaign where Grudinin's dirty laundry (real or not) was the only thing discussed on all the federal channels, while Pu's, of course, was not. In fact, the most insulting thing about this election is that Putin just basically pretended like he has no opponents. He didn't come to any debates, didn't roll out a program, didn't do much formal campaigning, saving it for formal government events like his big missile speech at the beginning of the month, even though that address was supposed to take place last fall. Instead, he took a one-on-one prepared interview with Vladimir Solovyev (the guy you can see trying to hold back Suraykin in the clip) with no hardball questions, and had this other loving multi-part documentary about him played on federal TV this week. Hilariously, even during the debates, which he didn't attend, the crawl above and/or below the screen would have his statements, promises, etc. going past the whole time the other candidates were talking.
Post 17 Mar 2018, 16:53
Who's this guy Maksim Shevchenko? When I look him up on wikipedia it says he hosts far right TV shows or something; so why does Grudinin have someone who's seemingly on the far right stand in for him as a representative of the KPRF?

As for Suraykin, from the few videos I've just watched, he seems to be your typical anti-revisionist communist who's all about "a member of the bourgeoisie can never truly represent the interests of the working class people as a candidate for a communist party"; which is true to a significant extent. I however can sympathise with the KPRF calling Suraykin a spoiler seeing as his party doesn't seem to have like, any seats, anywhere. I also don't really understand why Suraykin, a communist, would go to such lengths to discredit another communist party candidate; then again these debates generally tend to be no holds barred slugfests with everyone attacking everyone.

I'd like to think that Shevchenko calling Suraykin a 'Banderite provocateur' was a knee-jerk reaction to Suraykin constantly dragging Grudinin through the mud; otherwise I would have thought the accusation a cheap shot. Grudinin himself has spoken several times on patching things up with Ukraine, and I can't imagine that meeting up with fellow Ukrainian communists to be a bad thing. Though it is a bit funny that Suraykin can so freely move in and out of Ukraine when even civilian Russian citizens were barred from entering simply for saying 'Крым наш' on YouTube.

Finally, why has Grudinin been missing from so many of these debates?
Post 17 Mar 2018, 22:24
Was that the debate where Sobchak ended up crying?
Post 17 Mar 2018, 23:51

1) Shevchenko's not right wing in my view; he's been described as a 'fascist' mostly by liberal journalists because he keeps calling them traitors. But it's true that there are people from the right wing (i.e. those black, white, gold flag-waving nationalists) who have joined the KPRF's 'coalition of patriotic forces' for this election. This was made possible following a forum last year where reds and nationalists put aside their differences over the past and agreed on what needs to be done in the future - namely, throwing the comprador class making up Russia's current political and economic elite out of power.

2) Re: Suraykin, ideologically, I too appreciate his positions more, but yeah, I also think it's obvious that he's a spoiler, in the same way as he was in the 2016 Duma elections. There's this vibe I get from him that he's one of Vladislav Surkov's toys, i.e. a Zhirinovsky from the left who says a bunch of popular stuff, but at the last moment falls in line in favor of the ruling group. As for the bourgeoisie argument, Grudinin is certainly not ideologically well-read (in fact he's woefully, even embarrassingly, ignorant of Marxist theory, as evidenced by a couple of answers during campaign appearances) but he has represented the interests of his own workers, and what he and others like him represent still seems leagues better than the crushing neoliberalism in the government today.

3) As for the 'Banderite provocateur' remark, yeah, it was kind of knee-jerk reaction; but it is kind of odd I think that Suraykin was allowed into the country. I mean he's not a big political fish or anything, but as you've noted, Kiev been banning people left and right for Youtube videos, and yet this Stalinist is somehow allowed in?

4) Grudinin stopped attending the debates after getting frustrated by their format (i.e. 7 candidates at once with a couple minutes apiece to try to explain their program). The KPRF wanted to return to the 2012 elections format -i.e. one on one debates, which would enable candidates to say something substantive; they were denied this, and so Grudinin left it to his representatives to step in for him.

Che wrote:
Was that the debate where Sobchak ended up crying?

Nah, that was another one.
Post 18 Mar 2018, 14:05
I went and voted for the People's Candidate, for some reason the election place and several other ones played 90s soviet pop?

Made it seem very corny, either way, I was surprised by how many observers there were, maybe i'll be one next cycle. That is, if there is no corny pop music blasting the whole day, which could get very tiring.
Post 18 Mar 2018, 14:21
Haha Kirov I noticed that too; it's like there's been no new music since 1991 or something. In my neighborhood, they were all playing the 60s-70s Soviet music. Like 'Alexandra, Alexandra' and 'I'm walking around Moscow' Can't say I'm opposed really, but it does make one wonder; have the last 25 years really just been this big void in significant cultural production?

One thing I can report though is that turnout has been pretty high where I'm at; like 5 times what it was in 2016 during the parliamentary elections.
Post 18 Mar 2018, 14:55
The strangest was when I was walking by one that was playing Gazmanov's rendition of 'My address is the Soviet Union' and other similar stuff.

Also there is a near-total abandonment of giving voters gifts of any sort, apparently they used to give out stationery sets in 2012 to first-time voters. My fondest memory is 1996 when my grandmother took me to the voting precinct and they had a full buffet with caviar sandwiches and stuff (also large quantities of vodka though obviously i wasn't eligible for that part of the ceremony)

This time though i didn't even get a pin or a sticker (though i got a pin in the mailbox, which is strange). There was also a street fair outside, but it was just tents selling wooden children's toys like horses with wooden wheels on them though most weekends there are tents there selling stuff from other regions, as well as Armenia and Belarus.

Overall, the sanitization of voting is obviously a good trend, though some regions, such as Kamchatka, still run various contests for people who voted, while a precinct in Khabarovsk offered a 'presidential breakfast buffet' there should probably be a single standard on this.
Post 18 Mar 2018, 18:56
I was about to go as an observer, until the number was reduced a few days ago and I got cut off. Anyway, some friends from Argentina are there and they claim it's quite a festive atmosphere with dancing and music to enjoy.
Post 18 Mar 2018, 19:21
First exit polls say 72-75% for Putin. Six more years of this guy's liberal economic policies, and Russia will return to its 90s status of a Burkina Faso with nuclear weapons. Man I could use a drink.
Post 18 Mar 2018, 20:13
There's a pretty insightful thing by Gleb Pavlovsky that I read the other day that talks about how it has really been the same shit since 1996 or so, though the most detailed and interesting part was 2000-2008 when he actually worked in the administration, dismembering the CPRF, "sovereign democracy" and so on, while the pre- seems like it was taken from what others said and the post- is basically "I have no idea how the administration works now so i'm gonna say that no one is actually in charge."
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