Elections will be held in Russia this year on Oct. 14 and the races promise to be interesting – not necessarily for political reasons, but because of the personalities who have registered to run for regional office. For example, United Russia’s electoral list for state council in the Republic of Udmurtia includes Envil Kasimov, who is currently a local legislator representing the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, and is notorious for his controversial ideas. For instance, in February 2011, he wrote quite earnestly on his Facebook page that he wanted to become a woman – for the reason that women can retire at 55. Those who know him say Kasimov can come up with a new idea of this sort a couple of times a week, but joining United Russia will likely put a damper on his fertile imagination. While shocking statements are the norm for a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, they are inexcusable coming from a member of the ruling party. “If I become a member of the United Russia faction, I will naturally be bound by party discipline,” Kasimov said, and he has promise to run a campaign based around the preservation of national culture.
While Kasimov has been involved in politics before, many candidates seem not to be interested in governing at all. Andrei Pelipenko, 27, a bartender at an art-café in Saratov has nominated himself for the Saratov regional Duma, and Alexander Kurochkin, a 23-year-old owner of an online shop selling sexy underwear, has nominated himself for the Chelyabinsk city Duma, trying to impress local voters with promises of releasing a line of party logo panties, and even of showing up for an interview wearing nothing but elephant briefs if he is elected.
Meanwhile, judging from the banners of the All-Russian People’s Front set up by Putin and the pro-Kremlin movement Young Russia on his website, the young man seems to have mastered the basics not only of self-promotion, but also of building a political career. He also does not hesitate to speak bureaucratese. “I want to work for the people,” Kurochkin said. “My primary wish is not to be indifferent to the life of our people.”