Voting technology expert comments on growing “A Just Russia” activity
Penza, 10 March 2016. PenzaNews. An expert in voting technology that cooperates with the Penza region government, who asked to remain anonymous, provided an exclusive comment for PenzaNews with their analysis on the growing activity of “A Just Russia” party and an explanation of why the All-Russia People’s Front activist Lyudmila Kolomytseva may end up being unable to achieve any success during the State Duma election if she continues her cooperation with the party in question.
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Below, PenzaNews provides the English translation of the expert’s comment in full.
“Over the past years, the Penza region electorate completely forgot about the existence of such party as ‘A Just Russia.’ A complete lack of staff management led to devastating degradation of the local branch for the third-biggest party in the Russian parliament. You will not find any notable personalities or interesting speakers there, and only experts in relevant fields know the name of its head. I had encountered articles by certain ‘experts’ and ‘political analysts’ claiming the decay of the local ‘A Just Russia’ branch is the doing of the IPD [the Internal Policy Department of the Penza region]. However, that is not true. If a parliamentary party makes any staff changes in the region, nobody will be asking the IPD for permission.
“Ostensibly, it is hard to build up for the election campaign ‘on ashes.’ It would be impossible for the party to prepare their staff in the time they have left until the election. Therefore, they have only one way left: to involve a third party – somebody ready to work for the sake of their party. Let’s not confuse the issue and say it outright: these people will serve as cannon fodder of the election campaign. They are to be ‘spent’ to keep the machine working, to make the drivers of this machine ‘ride into’ their soft seats on the Okhotny Ryad [the State Duma].
“And yet they have something positive. For a brief moment, they become a part of the party and a part of the grand show called ‘The Big Election.’ Still, not all is so easy here either. If we keep in mind the objective of the party management – to make the party more recognizable, the personalities involved must be more popular than the party that involves them. These personalities are to be increasing the party’s ratings.
“As for the situation in the Penza region, naturally, the people who came here to help the regional ‘A Just Russia’ branch in the election are quite competent in their job. Not top-notch, of course, but for the province they will do. They quickly identified all ‘vacant’ activists and held the necessary talks with them. And, in the end, set their sights on two personalities that are quite notable in the local politics: Lyudmila Kolomytseva, and Alexander Kislov.
“Mrs. Kolomytseva is an outstanding politician with very strong potential. The high vote percentage during the local election shows here great management skills. The fact that she was not allowed into the City Duma was a personal mistake of the previous regional management. A smart and impressive woman who can speak and write well would be just the right medicine for the current ‘gray’ and boring City Duma devoid of any initiative. Her talk with the President Vladimir Putin about the bus transportation issue a year ago dropped a bomb in the local political society – nobody else managed to do that before! This also speaks a lot of her perseverance in solving the problems crucial for the society. She is a true gem of the regional political field, who, sadly, was skipped on at an opportune moment by the local authorities, who always were afraid of outstanding personalitites.
“I have to give Lyudmila Victorovna [Kolomytseva] her worth: she did realize that some of her problems stemmed from one particular person, who at that time wielded great power. Her participation in the All-Russian People’s Front shows her intelligence and strategic talent. After all, frankly speaking, after a small loss, she did not decry the whole world around her, but instead came to the right conclusions, made an enormous leap forward, earning the respect and recognition of the authorities.
“There is one thing that is surprising for me: why would she, a person who works with Presidential institutions, place her bet on one of the political underdogs of the region? I was almost completely sure she would come for the election as an APF representative! Frankly speaking, when Dmitry Medvedev gave his speech at the 15th United Russia party congregation, where he spoke about primaries that must involve the strongest politicians, with the winners going for the election from United Russia, I immediately thought about none other person than Kolomytseva. And then she drops the bomb: an APF activist, instead of walking through the door that’s open ajar for her, tries to climb in through the ventilation window.
“I can assume that she is working on increasing public attention to herself and the communal services issue, where she is a strong expert, via publications in ‘A Just Russia’ newspapers. And soon, we will see her as one of the candidates in the United Russia primaries, where she will be second to none. And next, the victory in the single-mandate constituency, the State Duma deputy mandate, and further work for the good of the Penza region. There is no other way, nor she needs one. United Russia itself is looking out for strong political personalities to strengthen its political influence. But she should be wary of mingling with ‘A Just Russia’ for too long, otherwise the voters during the primaries will see her as ‘A Just Russia’ representative, rather than a member of the APF and Vladimir Putin’s team. And if it goes too far, she may end up losing any connections with the APF to prevent her from possibly using the brand to spin for ‘A Just Russia’ that demands to remove Dmitry Medvedev from office.
“It is obvious that winning in the single-mandate constituency for ‘A Just Russia’ is impossible. The party clearly lacks the influence. ‘A Just Russia’ is not seen as a winning party. In addition, they are fighting for the turf against the Communist Party, who has its long-standing supporters. That means that Kolomytseva’s potential electorate likely will partially vote for the CPRF candidate, and her electoral area will be split in two – while United Russia will be sure to get all its votes.
“I think we have a question that will soon answer itself: will the Penza region has a new bright star in the political firmament of the Penza region, or will Kolomytseva make a strategic misstep and remain a ‘small-town personality’?
“But when it comes for the other new person for ‘A Just Russia,’ it clearly looks like they were made for one another. Alexander Kislov is a big expert in election campaigns, and he was the man behind Victor Ilyukhin’s bid for the gubernatorial office in 2002. It was him who generated many bright ideas, such as the meeting with the Samara region governor that allowed Victor Ilyukhin to nearly defeat Vasily Bochkarev. That campaign was very tough, but Alexander Ivanovich [Kislov] acted like a real trooper able to fight to the end. There is simply no other spin doctor of his rank in the Penza region that would know the ins and outs of the region, every local government official, every civil servant and the whole elite. He is a real godsend for ‘A Just Russia.’ Of course, he will not bring them the win, but the second place would be very likely.”