Russia: Election remains far from truly free | Financial Times

Five years have passed since the street protests that erupted following what were widely perceived as rigged parliamentary elections in Russia. But recent events have already made clear that anyone hoping that the next election to the Duma, Russia’s lower house, on Sunday will be significantly freer and more open is set for disappointment. Just two weeks before the ballot, Russian authorities blacklisted the Levada Centre, the country’s last independent pollster, as a “foreign agent”, leaving it barely able to function. This was ostensibly for receiving foreign funding. More likely it was because Levada’s polls showed falling support for the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. Memories of the 2011 demonstrations are still fresh in President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. So Moscow has taken steps to make this poll appear a little more transparent and competitive. It is reverting to a mixed system for the first time since 2003. Half the seats will come from party lists, half from single-member districts, to restore local representation.

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