Wednesday, October 01, 2014


The Power Vertical

With Popularity Fading, United Russia Tries To Get Sexy

Workers post a United Russia campaign banner for the State Duma elections in Moscow.
Workers post a United Russia campaign banner for the State Duma elections in Moscow.
Amidst rapidly declining poll numbers, the ruling United Russia party has released a steamy online video designed to win the support of younger voters.

The spot, titled "Let's Do It Together," shows an attractive woman entering a polling station where a young man attempts to flirt with her. After the man holds open the curtain to the voting booth for her, the woman pulls him into the booth. Seconds later, the two emerge disheveled and smiling as they cast their ballots together.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:


The video was released as a poll by the independent Levada Center showed United Russia's rating drop nine points in just one week -- from 60 percent to 51 percent.

The same poll, conducted from October 28-November 1, shows President Dmitry Medvedev's approval rating falling to 57 percent from 62 percent the previous week. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's rating also fell 5 percent in a week, to 61 percent.

As this blog has taken pains to point out in the past, public opinion polls in Russia should usually be taken with a grain of salt. But sometimes it makes sense to pay attention and I think this is one of those times.

While the Levada Center poll got the most media attention this week, the survey that really got my attention was an internal one conducted for the Kremlin, which was leaked to Gazeta.ru.

That poll, according to the Gazeta.ru report, showed a startling number of regional leaders -- many of whom will be leading United Russia's regional party lists in the December State Duma elections -- with approval ratings below 20 percent.

Here is a list of some of Russia's least popular regional leaders:

Andrei Nelidov (Karelia) -- 11 percent
Pavel Ipatov (Saratov) -- 14 percent
Oleg Bogomolov (Kurgan) -- 15 percent
Anatoly Brovko (Volgograd) -- 15 percent
Ilya Mikhalchuk (Arkhangelsk) -- 16 percent
Aleksandr Mikhailov (Kursk) -- 17 percent

That poll follows another internal Kremlin poll, also leaked to Gazeta.ru, that showed United Russia's numbers dangerously under water in several key regions, including Moscow (29 percent), St. Petersburg (31 percent) and Kaliningrad Oblast (27 percent).

Will all this matter in the end? Probably not. The governors may be unpopular, but they have massive administrative and bureaucratic resources at their disposal to get out the vote for United Russia.

In a commentary in Gazeta.ru, Gleb Cherkasov writes that while the ruling party may not match the massive victory it won in the 2007 elections this December, it will still hold a clear majority in the Duma. And Putin, he adds, is virtually assured election in March, despite his falling numbers.

But, Cherkasov adds, during his second stint in the Kremlin, Putin will be hard pressed to return to the lofty heights of popularity he once enjoyed:

The ratings of Vladimir Putin and all those professionally associated with him are falling. This is still nothing like a collapse but is increasingly suggestive of a trend. Those who dislike the regime see this fact as pleasing evidence of the growth of opposition sentiments, while Putin's supporters demonstratively disbelieve the polls and feel that he will achieve his usual hefty victory.

This is a rare occasion when both sides are right. The elections will indeed be successful: Even if the December phase proves not to be overly encouraging for the regime, in March all the figures will fall into place. It is possible that poor autumn figures will be absolutely overshadowed by the results of the spring vote. That said, Vladimir Putin's popularity is indeed declining, and...it will be quite hard to get his rating back to its traditional place.

-- Brian Whitmore

Tags: Vladimir Putin,United Russia,2011 State Duma elections,Dmitry Medvedev

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ossetians from: 1@1.com
November 10, 2011 04:59
Yeah, and forget the 2008_South_Ossetia_war. That's very smart!
And then we'll see the Nazi Party making the headlines.
And that video makes me sick.
Just do your job and that's good enough.

by: Joe
November 10, 2011 11:54
Excerpted from the above blog post title: "tries to get sexy"? (sic)

That video and some (stress some) of the United Russia member are far more sexier than the individuals that this blog and RFE/RL at large generally promote.
In Response

by: eli from: freedonia
November 10, 2011 15:23
geez, Averko, you really told them there!

like too many of your comments, all you can say is "RFE is stupid," but in your usual leaden prose, pompously trying to sound authoritative.

others manage to actually call them out for their coverage or reporting, but you just say they're biased. wow, good job. nice argument. just another knee-jerk Super Slav, defending the glorious orthodox flag. you're your own worst enemy.
In Response

by: Joe
November 11, 2011 18:12
Quite a perverse obsession you've over one person.

Your ironic blather doesn't come close to refuting anything I said.

In Response

by: Asehpe from: Netherlands
November 14, 2011 07:46
Nor does your own blather, Joe. How can one disprove that which wasn't proved to start with -- since all you did was make a claim? If you write that the moon is made of green cheese, there won't be any "proof that you're wrong" either. All one can do is say that this is not true.
In Response

by: Joe
November 14, 2011 12:28
You further substantiate my point Asehpe.

Your comment about the moon better applies to what you stated.
In Response

by: Asehpe from: Netherlands
November 18, 2011 19:34
Joe: how do I substatiate your point?

Seems to me I attack it.
In Response

by: Stig from: Sweden
December 04, 2011 14:54
So, what, "Joe"? What exactly are you trying to say? You don't like RFE/RL? Then why the f are you even here writing comments? You do make yourself look foolish.

Sorry, whoever you are, but that's the way it is.

by: Mark from: Victoria
November 14, 2011 04:04
Yes, come on, United Russia!!! Get with the program!! A few moments of observing real democracy in action, and you'd know that going deeply negative right out of the gate is the way to campaign. Something like, "My opponent, unfortunately, wants to raise your taxes so he can spend more on prostitutes and 5-star holidays, and will make your children walk to school with holes in their shoes" That's the way to do it!! Sex? Lame.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/12/attack-ads-2012-election-cycle_n_1007021.html

Oh, news sources from outside the country will shriek that you're spreading lies about honest people, that your accusations are fabricated and that you're cheapening and degrading the democratic process. Real democracies do not pay any attention at all to such criticism. Let them eat cake, as Marie Antoinette is supposed to have said.

If you ever expect to be a free-market democracy, you'd be well-advised to study how the professionals do it. Watch, and learn.

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LIVE In this space, I will regularly comment on events in Russia, repost content and tweets I find interesting and informative, and shamelessly promote myself (and others, whose work I like). The traditional Power Vertical Blog remains for larger and more developed items. The Podcast, of course, will continue to appear every Friday. I hope you find the new Power Vertical Feed to be a useful resource and welcome your feedback. More

Semyon Guzman, a prominent Ukrainian psychiatrist, says Vladimir Putin hasn't gone crazy -- he's just evil.

"Many really consider that he suffers from definite psychological illnesses,” Guzman wrote in a September 30 article (a big h/t to thei ndispensable Paul Goble for flagging this).  

"This is only a convenient explanation in the existing situation. Unfortunately, it is not correct.”

Putin's character traits, "ike those of a murderer, thief or other good for nothing, are not psychiatric phenomena but rather objects of the subjects of moral philosophy.” Guzman wrote. He added that Putin was "absolutely responsible" for his actions.

Karen Dawisha, who appeared on the Power Vertical Podcast back in April, dscusses her new book "Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia"

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

BARROSO WARNS PUTIN OVER EU-UKRAINE TRADE DEAL

The head of the European Commission says an EU-Ukraine trade deal can only be changed by Brussels and Kyiv – not Moscow.

Jose Manuel Barroso made the remarks in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin released on October 1.

Ukraine's parliament ratified its agreement with the EU last month. 

However, the implementation of the trade part of the deal has been delayed until January 2016 to appease Russia, which says the pact will hurt its markets.

Moscow has called for more three-way negotiations to amend the deal and threatened to curtail Ukraine's access to Russian markets if Kyiv implements it.

In his letter, Barroso warned Putin not to impose new trade measures, saying it would threaten the agreement with Russia to delay the EU-Ukraine pact.

(With reporting by Reuters)

And for anybody interested, here's the full text of Barroso's letter:

"Mr. President,

Following your letter of 17 September, I would like to welcome the constructive engagement from all sides in the trilateral ministerial meeting on the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area on 12 September.

The conclusions reached at that meeting were endorsed by all participants and set out in a joint ministerial statement.

On the EU side, we have informed our Member States of the outcome of the trilateral process, and we have now obtained their approval for the necessary legislative steps.

I should emphasize that the proposal to delay the provisional application of the DCFTA is linked to continuation of the CIS-FTA preferential regime, as agreed in the joint ministerial statement. In this context, we have strong concerns about the recent adoption of a decree by the Russian government proposing new trade barriers between Russia and Ukraine. We consider that the application of this decree would contravene the agreed joint conclusions and the decision to delay the provisional application of the trade related part of the Association Agreement.

The joint ministerial statement also foresees further consultations on how to address concerns raised by Russia. We are ready to continue engaging on how to tackle the perceived negative impacts to the Russian economy resulting from the implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.

I take however this opportunity to underline that the Association Agreement remains a bilateral agreement and that, in line with international law, any adaptations to it can only be made at the request of one of the parties and with the agreement of the other, according to the mechanisms foreseen in the text and the respective internal procedures of the parties.

I wish to recall that the joint conclusions reached at the Ministerial meeting state clearly that all these steps are part and parcel of a comprehensive peace process in Ukraine, respecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine as well as its right to decide on its destiny.

Consequently, while all parties should implement the conclusions as laid down in the joint ministerial statement in good faith, the statement does not and cannot limit in any way the sovereign prerogatives of Ukraine.

The European Commission remains fully committed to contribute to a peaceful solution. In this respect we hope that the recent positive steps embodied in the Minsk Protocol of 5 September and the ensuing memorandum from 19 September will be fully implemented, including the monitoring of the Ukrainian-Russian state border and its verification by the OSCE, and the withdrawal of all foreign armed formations and military equipment from the Ukrainian territory.

We also expect that rapid and decisive progress can be achieved in the trilateral gas talks towards a mutually acceptable interim solution for the upcoming winter period, on the basis of the compromise elements set out by the European Commission. It is key that the resumption of energy deliveries to the citizens of Ukraine is ensured and that the fulfilment of all contractual obligations with customers in the EU is secured.

Yours faithfully,

José Manuel BARROSO"

 

And just when you though it couldn't get any weirder, Valery Zorkin destroys your illusions.

That's Valery Zorkin, the chairman of Russia's Constitutional Court. Zorkin penned an article last week in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" (that's the official Russian government newspaper, by the way), calling for -- wait for it -- a return to serfdom. A big h/t to Elena Holodny at Business Insider for flagging this.

Here's the money quote:

"Even with all of its shortcomings, serfdom was exactly the main staple holding the inner unity of the nation. It was no accident that the peasants, according to historians, told their former masters after the reforms: 'We were yours, and you — ours.'"

Zorkin also took a shot at Pyotr Stolypin, the 19th century reformist prime minister (and a hero of Vladimir Putin's), and his judicial reforms.

"Stolypin's reform took away communal justice from the peasants in exchange for individual freedom, which almost none of them knew how to live and which was depriving their community guarantees of survival."

I wonder what that portends. Zorking also compared the abolotion of serfdom to the post-Soviet reforms of the 1990s.



 

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The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or