Red East How the Liberal Democratic Party lost, and the Communist Party acquired the regions of the Far East. Report by Meduza special correspondent Andrei Pertsev from Vladivostok

The Far East has traditionally been considered the political fiefdom of the Liberal Democratic Party: in the elections to the State Duma in 2016, this party was the second after United Russia party in all regions of the Far Eastern Federal District, except Yakutia, where it shared the second place with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Five years ago, the Liberal Democrats received from 20 to 30% of the vote here, with an average Russian result of 13%, and about the same for candidates from this party they voted for in elections to local legislative assemblies. But in 2021, the LDPR lost its status as the main opposition force in the Far East: the results of the party here fell by two, and in some places by three times. This year, the Communists became the spokesmen for the protest of the Far East: if in the 2016 State Duma elections they received 7-18%, depending on the region, now they gained from 12 to 35% (in most regions of the district – more than 20%).

The Far East has traditionally been considered the political fiefdom of the Liberal Democratic Party: in the elections to the State Duma in 2016, this party was the second after United Russia party in all regions of the Far Eastern Federal District, except Yakutia, where it shared the second place with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Five years ago, the Liberal Democrats received from 20 to 30% of the vote here, with an average Russian result of 13%, and about the same for candidates from this party they voted for in elections to local legislative assemblies. But in 2021, the LDPR lost its status as the main opposition force in the Far East: the results of the party here fell by two, and in some places by three times. This year, the Communists became the spokesmen for the protest of the Far East: if in the 2016 State Duma elections they received 7-18%, depending on the region, now they gained from 12 to 35% (in most regions of the district – more than 20%).

“Ussuriysk Fleet” against the red protest

As a result of the September elections, the LDPR representation in the Legislative Assembly of the Primorsky Territory decreased five times – from five to one deputy. At the same time, the party was unable to elect a single candidate in a single-mandate constituency. If five years ago the Liberal Democrats took third place in the regional elections, losing 0.4% to the Communists, this year they came to the finish line of the election race only fourth.

In the 2016 Duma elections, the LDPR became the second in Primorye, slightly ahead of the communists, but in September of this year, the party of Vladimir Zhirinovsky became only the third in the region, and its result fell almost three times – from 19 to 7.7%.

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation received 14 seats in the regional parliament (five years ago – 8), of which 10 were taken by the communists in single-mandate constituencies – this is unusual, because the Communist Party, as a rule, gets seats on party lists. In addition, the communists took all eight single-mandate constituencies in the capital of Primorye, Vladivostok. 

“In 2016, the LDPR and Fair Russia received many votes in the region, but people also see that they are working for United Russia, our people are capable and literate, we should not represent them as cattle. They understand that the Liberal Democratic Party is a pro-government party, “Artem Samsonov, head of the Vladivostok city committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, argues in a conversation with Meduza’s correspondent.

At the same time, he is sure that the voters support the communists for ideological reasons, and not out of “naked protest” – as it was, in his opinion, with the Liberal Democratic Party. As proof, he cites the number of votes cast for a nominee of yet another communist party, the Communists of Russia. 15 thousand voters voted for her candidate Vitaly Libanov in the district, and 45 thousand for Samsonov. “No one knows him, but in some polling stations Libanov ate up to a third of the votes – he was higher on the ballot, people see the word“ communist ”and vote,” Samsonov explains, adding that now people still look first of all at the party.https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fartem.samsonov.73%2Fposts%2F5044761108897383&width=650&show_text=false&height=365&appIdThe head of the Primorye communists, Artem Samsonov, held 14 members of the Communist Party faction in the regional meeting.

The head of the city committee clarifies that in the districts from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, not just nameless candidates who hoped only for the strength of the party brand, but well-known people on their territory: deputies of the City Duma of Vladivostok and the neighboring town of Bolshoy Kamen, activists and journalists were running. In his opinion, the party in power, unwillingly, helped the communists to improve the result.

“United Russia members themselves miscalculated, they made more constituencies and reduced the number of seats on the lists: they say, ‘they vote badly for us on the lists, we will conduct candidates in the districts.’ But the communists have no money, so it’s easier for our candidates to win in a small constituency. Here you can work, go around the courtyards yourself, talk to people, but a large district could drag on, ”says Samsonov.READ ALSO

According to him, a high turnout helped the opposition win in the past, but even with a relatively low turnout in 2021, the results of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation were also high. “The authorities have a certain level of falsification – to buy someone, bring state employees, use administrative resources. If the turnout is relatively large, then all this is smeared, does not give a decisive effect. Now the turnout is not the highest , but the mood [in society] is different after the pension reform, and in principle people understand that 30 years have passed, but nothing has changed in the country, ”Samsonov said.

The communist himself went to the regional meeting of deputies on the party list, where he was number two, and lost the campaign in a single-mandate constituency to the State Duma, losing 25 thousand votes to United Russia party Alexander Shcherbakov. Artavazd Hovhannisyan, the son of a major real estate developer Seyran Hovhannisyan (he was already a member of the previous convocation of the regional parliament), was number three on the list of communists for the Legislative Assembly. Meduza’s source close to the Presidential Administration considers the Hovhannisyan family to be one of the major sponsors of the regional committee of communists.

Artyom Samsonov is confident that he would have won the elections to the State Duma, if not for the zones of electoral anomalies in the city of Ussuriysk and rural areas that are part of the district. The communist believes that if it were not for the falsifications, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation would have won the elections to the local parliament and the State Duma in Primorye.

“We have districts that we call Primorskaya Chechnya: Dalnerechensk, Chuguevka. These are small villages and long distances, because of which it is very difficult to build observation, ”confirms the second secretary of the regional committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Yevgeny Lyashenko, who won the elections to the regional assembly in one of Vladivostok’s single-mandate constituencies.

He recalls the old Ussuri fleet meme. During the elections of the governor of the region in 2018, in which the communist Andrei Ishchenko was initially leading, and not the acting head of the region Andrei Tarasenko, as counting, polling stations began to appear in the city of Ussuriysk, where 100% of voters voted for Tarasenko. The head of the CEC Ella Pamfilova then said that there were no violations in these election commissions, since they are located on the courts. At the same time, Ussuriysk is located several tens of kilometers from the sea, and there are no ship sections there, as in port cities.

“At first Artyom had an advantage, we joked that the Ussuriysk fleet would come up and sink us – and that is what happened,” Lyashenko says with bitter irony.

According to him, in Ussuriysk the communists “practically succeeded” in holding another single-mandate candidate – local municipal deputy Oleg Grigoriev. He was in the lead in most precincts, but in commission No. 2812, according to the  protocol signed by all PEC members, the UR candidate gained 74 votes more.

But in the GAS “Vybory” system, completely different numbers were introduced – there the candidate from “United Russia” was already gaining 93 more votes. Observers Grigoriev were forcibly expelled from the premises of the territorial election commission by the police, and the CPRF lawyer Yana Shestakova was injured. Then, the territorial election commission (TEC) carried out a recount, according to which the figures of GAS “Vybory” and the votes in the ballots coincided.

“My color is red”

In Vladivostok, the majority of candidates from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation was so strong that a “slight correction” of the voting results would not have helped. For example, city deputy Nadezhda Telelyueva defeated United Russia by almost a twofold margin (8 thousand against 4.3 thousand votes), and journalist and blogger Gennady Shulga got 1,500 more votes than his competitor.

At the same time, the promoted members of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation defeated the status characters. Telelyueva – I. O. rector of the Far Eastern Federal University Alexei Koshel, Shulga – the chief ideologist of the regional “United Russia”, deputy of the regional assembly Dmitry Novikov. And Lyubov Terendina, nominated by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, bypassed the rector of the Pacific Medical University, Valentin Shumatov.

“I am a toxic figure for the regional administration, their eyes twitch that I entered [the regional parliament], it’s even surprising that I was allowed before the elections. They told me – there would be a difference of several dozen, and even if only 200 votes, they would have come up with something to keep me out. But 1300 votes of the difference is a lot. The authorities knew that if they started committing falsifications, there would be a scandal, ”Gennady Shulga enthusiastically tells Meduza.

The newly minted deputy from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation bears little resemblance to an orthodox communist and even to an average nominee of the Communist Party – fashionable glasses, sneakers and a sweatshirt, a cheerful, even casual manner of communication. Probably, the profession affects: Shulga is a well-known journalist in the region. In February, security forces conducted at Shulga searched and seized all the equipment, and the journalist was questioned as a witness in the trial of the action in support of Alexei Navalny on January 23 that Shulga covered in his edition newsbox24.tv .

The journalist and deputy calls himself a “social democrat”, but he is in no hurry to become a communist. “I am not a member of the party – in the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, for all its supposedly dictatorship of the proletariat, most of all democracy, they are not forced to join the party. I am a person with a heightened sense of social justice, I see that something is wrong in our country, I want to change the situation, ”Shulga assures. He admits that he is still “shocked” by his victory, and explains it not only by the protest mood of the townspeople, but also by “personal popularity.” “It is unrealistic to defeat such a strong United Russia member on a protest wave,” he says of his rival Dmitry Novikov.

Shulga admits that he decided to nominate from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, because “there is no one else stupid”, and that with all their “external systemic character” the Communists are now the only party that has the opportunity to become the opposition.

“I often hear during meetings:“ Zyuganov sold everything back in 1996 ”. I answer – I was 10 years old then, I have nothing to do with this – we have not. Maybe Zyuganov is negotiating something  , but the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is not only Zyuganov, they may have their own game at the top, but at the bottom of the party hierarchy there are many young, young people – 30-40 years old. They are not close to communist, but social democratic principles, ”Shulga convinces Meduza’s correspondent.READ ALSO

Nadezhda Telelyueva, a deputy of the Vladivostok City Duma, who has now won the elections to the Legislative Assembly of the Okrug, admits that a few years ago she could not even be called an activist: “Unless I took part in the protest on the right-hand drive, I’m an ordinary person”. She came to politics thanks to the former candidate for governor from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Andrei Ishchenko, who invited Nadezhda to run for the City Duma in 2017. The campaign was successful. “I met with all the people in the area, got acquainted,” she recalls.

Telelyueva has become a popular city deputy – she fights with careless management companies, achieves the installation of shops, talking about her successes on  Instagram . “I feel comfortable in the Communist Party, and it is interesting for me to work on the territory. In this game, you can point to pain points, and if my party were blue, they would have told me long ago: “Nadia, stop it!” But my color is red, ”the deputy laughs.

Then, on the same facades and doors of houses, fake leaflets began to appear on behalf of Nadezhda herself, but even then she was able to score points – she began to personally tear off the leaflets and wash away their traces. Finally, another candidate in the constituency, an employee of the Far Eastern Federal University Maxim Beloborodov, nominated by Fair Russia , tried to remove Telelyueva from the elections. Koshel’s subordinate pointed to the alleged connection between the city deputy and  Navalny’s Headquarters , pointing to her participation in a rally in support of Navalny on January 23. But in the end, Beloborodov withdrew his claim. “A wave arose in my support, and everyone who did not know who Nadya Telelyueva was, found out about her. It is especially good that the members of the commissions found out about it, ”the deputy says.

All the CPRF candidates whom Meduza’s correspondent spoke to say that they were able to win only because they organized observation at the polling stations themselves – with the stipulation that it was easier to do this in Vladivostok and Bolshoy Kamen than in rural areas and local electoral sultanates “. Lyashenko makes a helpless gesture: “The guys tried to go to Nakhodka to observe, at the time of counting strong guys came in, they were pushed aside and the whole process was closed.”

Despite the fact that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation does not have a majority in the regional assembly (only 14 out of 40 seats), the communists can now influence what is happening in the parliament. “We must be reckoned with, we can disrupt meetings, leave the hall, disrupt the quorum. More than two-thirds of the votes are required for statutory issues. We may finally have a public policy. I am glad that I had a hand in this and will participate in this, I am bursting with this thought, ”Gennady Shulga does not hide his emotions.

Artem Samsonov believes that next year the Communists may take a majority in the elections to the Vladivostok City Duma. “After such a result, there will be many people wishing to come from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation [strong candidates], all of our districts will be closed. The counties, again, are smaller – it is easier to work in them, ”he expects. Evgeny Lyashenko and Nadezhda Telelyueva are more cautious about their prospects. According to Lyashenko, United Russia will take into account the loss in the city and take measures – “at least they will plow in the districts.” “Therefore, I will not wang [victory],” Lyashenko concludes.

“These are dashing people. Our Wild West “

Primorye is just one example of a Far Eastern region with a serious increase in the performance of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and a serious failure of the LDPR. The Communists grew up, while the Liberal Democrats fell by about the same proportion in all regions of the Far Eastern Federal District, except Chukotka.

The trend can be traced both at the level of campaigns to the Legislative Assembly, and at the level of campaigns to the State Duma. So, in the elections to the Duma of the Kamchatka Territory in 2016, the Liberal Democratic Party gained 22.98%, and this year – 11.6% (communists – 15.15 and 23.2%, respectively). In the Amur Region, in the elections to the local parliament, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) fell from the former 30.7% to 14.6%, while the Communists rose from 17.4% to 26.6%.

Where in September of this year only deputies were elected to the State Duma, the balance of power is about the same. In the Sakhalin region, the communists improved their result compared to the previous Duma elections from 15.5 to 28.6% (the liberal democrats worsened it from 20.35 to 8.9%), in the Magadan region, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation grew from 14.84 to 20, 6%, the Liberal Democratic Party – fell from 19.15 to 7.5%.

“The promises of the Liberal Democratic Party are not being fulfilled: Zhirinovsky promised to lay down mandates for [the former governor of the Khabarovsk Territory Sergei] Furgal, this greatly raised their ratings, but two weeks later the Liberal Democratic Party actually abandoned Furgal. Of course, Zhirinovsky’s words about Furgal were very influential – they say, they feed well there , let him sit, – says the communist Yevgeny Lyashenko about the reasons for the “surrender” of the LDPR of the Far East. – In 2018, the Liberal Democratic Party called on us not to vote in the gubernatorial elections for the candidate of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, but to support “stability”, plus voting on pension reform. So we take the protest agenda. “

His colleague in the faction in the new convocation of the Legislative Assembly of Primorye Gennady Shulga agrees: “We are neighbors and we follow the neighbors, Zhirinovsky’s behavior has long raised questions, and even more so in the story with Sergei Ivanovich [Furgal]. We saw how the party specifically betrays itself and lies under the Kremlin, they send [to Khabarovsk] a jester, who is not washed through all the baths , so they are dragged to the post. “READ ALSO

LDPR spokesman Aleksandr Dyupin, in a conversation with Meduza’s correspondent, admits that the LDPR rating “was really negatively affected by the story of Furgal’s arrest.”

“We supported and support him by legal means, but many residents of the Far East expected more harsh actions from us – in particular, for the party to lead a street protest movement. But we could not go for it, such a step would inflame the entire Far East. And this is a rebellion, a step towards the destruction of the country – the Liberal Democratic Party will never go for this, because the safety of the state is a priority for us, “Dupin said.

The LDPR spokesman added that after the appointment of Mikhail Degtyarev as acting governor of the Khabarovsk Territory, the party’s protests on the streets would automatically become protests against Degtyarev. “That way we would have struck on our own,” he says.

LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky in his telegram channel , summing up the election results, indicated that the party could increase its rating in two ways: use street protests and oppose vaccinations. “During the last campaign, we actually broke ourselves, realizing that we are losing our voices on these topics, but maybe we saved at least a certain number of lives. But, alas, it is impossible to present these achievements on a silver platter to voters. People are always opposed, they like to punish the authorities, so they supported the overthrow of the tsar in 1917, then the interim government and were happy to expel the communists in 1991, ”he wrote.

A source close to the presidential administration, Meduza’s interlocutor describes the political situation in the Far East as follows: “The Far East did not forgive Zhirinovsky for Furgal’s betrayal, it dawned on everyone that the Liberal Democratic Party was not an opposition.” At the same time, he is sure that the residents of the Far East have not developed much sympathy for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. “It’s not about raising the retirement age and the communists’ promises to return it, no fools live here, they understand for sure that stuffing cannot be turned back. Far Easterners went to the polls to annoy the system: Putin does not like the Communist Party, [Pavel] Grudinin is being removed from the elections, which means we will vote for the Reds, ”the source said.

The Far East is called “Our Wild West” by a political strategist who has been working in elections in this region of Russia for a long time. “These are dashing people – they do not like the authorities, morals are more free. Zhirik’s escapades were better for them than soviet tediousness from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. They saw themselves in the Liberal Democratic Party, both in Furgal, and in [the senator from the Amur region, at one time a popular politician in the region, Ivan] Abramov. “

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The political strategist notes that this year the LDPR campaigned in the Far East rather weakly. In his opinion, this can be explained by some kind of agreement on the appointment of a State Duma deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Mikhail Degtyarev to the governor of the Khabarovsk Territory.

“But the case with Degtyarev itself severely damaged the LDPR’s reputation as leaders of the protest. Furgala was poured, this one was pushed through with twisting of arms and administrative resources. It is difficult to position oneself as fighters against the authorities in this situation. Well, the communists picked up what fell. People just wanted to show a fig, such is the mentality here, ”the interlocutor of Meduza smiles.

Political scientist Gleb Kuznetsov also speaks about the “specifics of the electorate in the Far East” and describes it in more detail. “A large number of retirees – both security officials and ex-inmates, plus a shift with its specifics. This is the first thing. And secondly, the focus of the active part of the population on small and medium-sized “out-of-the-box fishing” from driving cars to all sorts of forest stories. Among them, there is a strong fundamental distrust not even of Moscow, but of the state as such. With the arrival of Degtyarev and the history of Furgal in general, people saw that the Liberal Democratic Party is also a state, and not just its critics, ”he says. The expert mentions one more factor: ” Anti- vaccine sentiments are strong in the LDPR electorate – and Vladimir Zhirinovsky speaks from an aggressive provocative position.”

In addition, Kuznetsov notes, the Liberal Democratic Party has no bright leaders in the Far East: “The type of actively protesting oppositionist, young, not inclined to compromise, scandalous, local, is in demand here.” Under these conditions, the electorate of the Liberal Democratic Party migrated to the “main oppositional force of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation” and partially to the party “New People”, which showed good results in the Far East.

“The success of the Communist Party is not the success of the Communist Party, but just a protest. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation does not yet have a stable “base” in the Far East, ”sums up Gleb Kuznetsov.

“Ussuriysk Fleet” against the red protest

As a result of the September elections, the LDPR representation in the Legislative Assembly of the Primorsky Territory decreased five times – from five to one deputy. At the same time, the party was unable to elect a single candidate in a single-mandate constituency. If five years ago the Liberal Democrats took third place in the regional elections, losing 0.4% to the Communists, this year they came to the finish line of the election race only fourth.

In the 2016 Duma elections, the LDPR became the second in Primorye, slightly ahead of the communists, but in September of this year, the party of Vladimir Zhirinovsky became only the third in the region, and its result fell almost three times – from 19 to 7.7%.

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation received 14 seats in the regional parliament (five years ago – 8), of which 10 were taken by the communists in single-mandate constituencies – this is unusual, because the Communist Party, as a rule, gets seats on party lists. In addition, the communists took all eight single-mandate constituencies in the capital of Primorye, Vladivostok. 

“In 2016, the LDPR and Fair Russia received many votes in the region, but people also see that they are working for United Russia, our people are capable and literate, we should not represent them as cattle. They understand that the Liberal Democratic Party is a pro-government party, “Artem Samsonov, head of the Vladivostok city committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, argues in a conversation with Meduza’s correspondent.

At the same time, he is sure that the voters support the communists for ideological reasons, and not out of “naked protest” – as it was, in his opinion, with the Liberal Democratic Party. As proof, he cites the number of votes cast for a nominee of yet another communist party, the Communists of Russia. 15 thousand voters voted for her candidate Vitaly Libanov in the district, and 45 thousand for Samsonov. “No one knows him, but in some polling stations Libanov ate up to a third of the votes – he was higher on the ballot, people see the word“ communist ”and vote,” Samsonov explains, adding that now people still look first of all at the party.The head of the Primorye communists, Artem Samsonov, held 14 members of the Communist Party faction in the regional meeting.

The head of the city committee clarifies that in the districts from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, not just nameless candidates who hoped only for the strength of the party brand, but well-known people on their territory: deputies of the City Duma of Vladivostok and the neighboring town of Bolshoy Kamen, activists and journalists were running. In his opinion, the party in power, unwillingly, helped the communists to improve the result.

“United Russia members themselves miscalculated, they made more constituencies and reduced the number of seats on the lists: they say, ‘they vote badly for us on the lists, we will conduct candidates in the districts.’ But the communists have no money, so it’s easier for our candidates to win in a small constituency. Here you can work, go around the courtyards yourself, talk to people, but a large district could drag on, ”says Samsonov.READ ALSO

According to him, a high turnout helped the opposition win in the past, but even with a relatively low turnout in 2021, the results of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation were also high. “The authorities have a certain level of falsification – to buy someone, bring state employees, use administrative resources. If the turnout is relatively large, then all this is smeared, does not give a decisive effect. Now the turnout is not the highest , but the mood [in society] is different after the pension reform, and in principle people understand that 30 years have passed, but nothing has changed in the country, ”Samsonov said.

The communist himself went to the regional meeting of deputies on the party list, where he was number two, and lost the campaign in a single-mandate constituency to the State Duma, losing 25 thousand votes to United Russia party Alexander Shcherbakov. Artavazd Hovhannisyan, the son of a major real estate developer Seyran Hovhannisyan (he was already a member of the previous convocation of the regional parliament), was number three on the list of communists for the Legislative Assembly. Meduza’s source close to the Presidential Administration considers the Hovhannisyan family to be one of the major sponsors of the regional committee of communists.

Artyom Samsonov is confident that he would have won the elections to the State Duma, if not for the zones of electoral anomalies in the city of Ussuriysk and rural areas that are part of the district. The communist believes that if it were not for the falsifications, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation would have won the elections to the local parliament and the State Duma in Primorye.

“We have districts that we call Primorskaya Chechnya: Dalnerechensk, Chuguevka. These are small villages and long distances, because of which it is very difficult to build observation, ”confirms the second secretary of the regional committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Yevgeny Lyashenko, who won the elections to the regional assembly in one of Vladivostok’s single-mandate constituencies.

He recalls the old Ussuri fleet meme. During the elections of the governor of the region in 2018, in which the communist Andrei Ishchenko was initially leading, and not the acting head of the region Andrei Tarasenko, as counting, polling stations began to appear in the city of Ussuriysk, where 100% of voters voted for Tarasenko. The head of the CEC Ella Pamfilova then said that there were no violations in these election commissions, since they are located on the courts. At the same time, Ussuriysk is located several tens of kilometers from the sea, and there are no ship sections there, as in port cities.

“At first Artyom had an advantage, we joked that the Ussuriysk fleet would come up and sink us – and that is what happened,” Lyashenko says with bitter irony.

According to him, in Ussuriysk the communists “practically succeeded” in holding another single-mandate candidate – local municipal deputy Oleg Grigoriev. He was in the lead in most precincts, but in commission No. 2812, according to the  protocol signed by all PEC members, the UR candidate gained 74 votes more.

But in the GAS “Vybory” system, completely different numbers were introduced – there the candidate from “United Russia” was already gaining 93 more votes. Observers Grigoriev were forcibly expelled from the premises of the territorial election commission by the police, and the CPRF lawyer Yana Shestakova was injured. Then, the territorial election commission (TEC) carried out a recount, according to which the figures of GAS “Vybory” and the votes in the ballots coincided.

“On September 21, there was no control in the TEC premises, the seal in the room where the ballots were kept was broken. On September 22, the TEC conducted a recount, “Shestakova recalls in a conversation with Meduza’s correspondent. United Russia, according to official figures, defeated the communist by eight votes. Now Primorye communists are challenging the results of the elections in Ussuriysk.READ ALSO

“My color is red”

In Vladivostok, the majority of candidates from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation was so strong that a “slight correction” of the voting results would not have helped. For example, city deputy Nadezhda Telelyueva defeated United Russia by almost a twofold margin (8 thousand against 4.3 thousand votes), and journalist and blogger Gennady Shulga got 1,500 more votes than his competitor.

At the same time, the promoted members of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation defeated the status characters. Telelyueva – I. O. rector of the Far Eastern Federal University Alexei Koshel, Shulga – the chief ideologist of the regional “United Russia”, deputy of the regional assembly Dmitry Novikov. And Lyubov Terendina, nominated by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, bypassed the rector of the Pacific Medical University, Valentin Shumatov.

“I am a toxic figure for the regional administration, their eyes twitch that I entered [the regional parliament], it’s even surprising that I was allowed before the elections. They told me – there would be a difference of several dozen, and even if only 200 votes, they would have come up with something to keep me out. But 1300 votes of the difference is a lot. The authorities knew that if they started committing falsifications, there would be a scandal, ”Gennady Shulga enthusiastically tells Meduza.

The newly minted deputy from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation bears little resemblance to an orthodox communist and even to an average nominee of the Communist Party – fashionable glasses, sneakers and a sweatshirt, a cheerful, even casual manner of communication. Probably, the profession affects: Shulga is a well-known journalist in the region. In February, security forces conducted at Shulga searched and seized all the equipment, and the journalist was questioned as a witness in the trial of the action in support of Alexei Navalny on January 23 that Shulga covered in his edition newsbox24.tv .

The journalist and deputy calls himself a “social democrat”, but he is in no hurry to become a communist. “I am not a member of the party – in the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, for all its supposedly dictatorship of the proletariat, most of all democracy, they are not forced to join the party. I am a person with a heightened sense of social justice, I see that something is wrong in our country, I want to change the situation, ”Shulga assures. He admits that he is still “shocked” by his victory, and explains it not only by the protest mood of the townspeople, but also by “personal popularity.” “It is unrealistic to defeat such a strong United Russia member on a protest wave,” he says of his rival Dmitry Novikov.

Shulga admits that he decided to nominate from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, because “there is no one else stupid”, and that with all their “external systemic character” the Communists are now the only party that has the opportunity to become the opposition.

“I often hear during meetings:“ Zyuganov sold everything back in 1996 ”. I answer – I was 10 years old then, I have nothing to do with this – we have not. Maybe Zyuganov is negotiating something  , but the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is not only Zyuganov, they may have their own game at the top, but at the bottom of the party hierarchy there are many young, young people – 30-40 years old. They are not close to communist, but social democratic principles, ”Shulga convinces Meduza’s correspondent.READ ALSO

Nadezhda Telelyueva, a deputy of the Vladivostok City Duma, who has now won the elections to the Legislative Assembly of the Okrug, admits that a few years ago she could not even be called an activist: “Unless I took part in the protest on the right-hand drive, I’m an ordinary person”. She came to politics thanks to the former candidate for governor from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Andrei Ishchenko, who invited Nadezhda to run for the City Duma in 2017. The campaign was successful. “I met with all the people in the area, got acquainted,” she recalls.

Telelyueva has become a popular city deputy – she fights with careless management companies, achieves the installation of shops, talking about her successes on  Instagram . “I feel comfortable in the Communist Party, and it is interesting for me to work on the territory. In this game, you can point to pain points, and if my party were blue, they would have told me long ago: “Nadia, stop it!” But my color is red, ”the deputy laughs.

In United Russia, Telelyueva was selected by a very high-profile competitor – the acting rector of the FEFU Alexei Koshel, who had nothing to do with this district. The political strategists of Koshel tried to play up this novelty: posters with the image of a black horse – a “dark horse” – and the inscription “Purse” began to appear in the district. The residents did not like the creativity: everything was hung with posters, including the freshly painted facades of houses. “The area is not that it was fighting an external invader…” Telelyueva begins and immediately cuts off: “Although it is true”.The deputy of the Vladivostok City Duma from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Nadezhda Telelyueva went up and was elected a regional parliamentarian, defeating the rector of the Far Eastern Federal University.

Then, on the same facades and doors of houses, fake leaflets began to appear on behalf of Nadezhda herself, but even then she was able to score points – she began to personally tear off the leaflets and wash away their traces. Finally, another candidate in the constituency, an employee of the Far Eastern Federal University Maxim Beloborodov, nominated by Fair Russia , tried to remove Telelyueva from the elections. Koshel’s subordinate pointed to the alleged connection between the city deputy and  Navalny’s Headquarters , pointing to her participation in a rally in support of Navalny on January 23. But in the end, Beloborodov withdrew his claim. “A wave arose in my support, and everyone who did not know who Nadya Telelyueva was, found out about her. It is especially good that the members of the commissions found out about it, ”the deputy says.

All the CPRF candidates whom Meduza’s correspondent spoke to say that they were able to win only because they organized observation at the polling stations themselves – with the stipulation that it was easier to do this in Vladivostok and Bolshoy Kamen than in rural areas and local electoral sultanates “. Lyashenko makes a helpless gesture: “The guys tried to go to Nakhodka to observe, at the time of counting strong guys came in, they were pushed aside and the whole process was closed.”

Despite the fact that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation does not have a majority in the regional assembly (only 14 out of 40 seats), the communists can now influence what is happening in the parliament. “We must be reckoned with, we can disrupt meetings, leave the hall, disrupt the quorum. More than two-thirds of the votes are required for statutory issues. We may finally have a public policy. I am glad that I had a hand in this and will participate in this, I am bursting with this thought, ”Gennady Shulga does not hide his emotions.

Artem Samsonov believes that next year the Communists may take a majority in the elections to the Vladivostok City Duma. “After such a result, there will be many people wishing to come from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation [strong candidates], all of our districts will be closed. The counties, again, are smaller – it is easier to work in them, ”he expects. Evgeny Lyashenko and Nadezhda Telelyueva are more cautious about their prospects. According to Lyashenko, United Russia will take into account the loss in the city and take measures – “at least they will plow in the districts.” “Therefore, I will not wang [victory],” Lyashenko concludes.

“These are dashing people. Our Wild West “

Primorye is just one example of a Far Eastern region with a serious increase in the performance of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and a serious failure of the LDPR. The Communists grew up, while the Liberal Democrats fell by about the same proportion in all regions of the Far Eastern Federal District, except Chukotka.

The trend can be traced both at the level of campaigns to the Legislative Assembly, and at the level of campaigns to the State Duma. So, in the elections to the Duma of the Kamchatka Territory in 2016, the Liberal Democratic Party gained 22.98%, and this year – 11.6% (communists – 15.15 and 23.2%, respectively). In the Amur Region, in the elections to the local parliament, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) fell from the former 30.7% to 14.6%, while the Communists rose from 17.4% to 26.6%.

Where in September of this year only deputies were elected to the State Duma, the balance of power is about the same. In the Sakhalin region, the communists improved their result compared to the previous Duma elections from 15.5 to 28.6% (the liberal democrats worsened it from 20.35 to 8.9%), in the Magadan region, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation grew from 14.84 to 20, 6%, the Liberal Democratic Party – fell from 19.15 to 7.5%.

“The promises of the Liberal Democratic Party are not being fulfilled: Zhirinovsky promised to lay down mandates for [the former governor of the Khabarovsk Territory Sergei] Furgal, this greatly raised their ratings, but two weeks later the Liberal Democratic Party actually abandoned Furgal. Of course, Zhirinovsky’s words about Furgal were very influential – they say, they feed well there , let him sit, – says the communist Yevgeny Lyashenko about the reasons for the “surrender” of the LDPR of the Far East. – In 2018, the Liberal Democratic Party called on us not to vote in the gubernatorial elections for the candidate of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, but to support “stability”, plus voting on pension reform. So we take the protest agenda. “

His colleague in the faction in the new convocation of the Legislative Assembly of Primorye Gennady Shulga agrees: “We are neighbors and we follow the neighbors, Zhirinovsky’s behavior has long raised questions, and even more so in the story with Sergei Ivanovich [Furgal]. We saw how the party specifically betrays itself and lies under the Kremlin, they send [to Khabarovsk] a jester, who is not washed through all the baths , so they are dragged to the post. “READ ALSO

LDPR spokesman Aleksandr Dyupin, in a conversation with Meduza’s correspondent, admits that the LDPR rating “was really negatively affected by the story of Furgal’s arrest.”

“We supported and support him by legal means, but many residents of the Far East expected more harsh actions from us – in particular, for the party to lead a street protest movement. But we could not go for it, such a step would inflame the entire Far East. And this is a rebellion, a step towards the destruction of the country – the Liberal Democratic Party will never go for this, because the safety of the state is a priority for us, “Dupin said.

The LDPR spokesman added that after the appointment of Mikhail Degtyarev as acting governor of the Khabarovsk Territory, the party’s protests on the streets would automatically become protests against Degtyarev. “That way we would have struck on our own,” he says.

LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky in his telegram channel , summing up the election results, indicated that the party could increase its rating in two ways: use street protests and oppose vaccinations. “During the last campaign, we actually broke ourselves, realizing that we are losing our voices on these topics, but maybe we saved at least a certain number of lives. But, alas, it is impossible to present these achievements on a silver platter to voters. People are always opposed, they like to punish the authorities, so they supported the overthrow of the tsar in 1917, then the interim government and were happy to expel the communists in 1991, ”he wrote.

A source close to the presidential administration, Meduza’s interlocutor describes the political situation in the Far East as follows: “The Far East did not forgive Zhirinovsky for Furgal’s betrayal, it dawned on everyone that the Liberal Democratic Party was not an opposition.” At the same time, he is sure that the residents of the Far East have not developed much sympathy for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. “It’s not about raising the retirement age and the communists’ promises to return it, no fools live here, they understand for sure that stuffing cannot be turned back. Far Easterners went to the polls to annoy the system: Putin does not like the Communist Party, [Pavel] Grudinin is being removed from the elections, which means we will vote for the Reds, ”the source said.

The Far East is called “Our Wild West” by a political strategist who has been working in elections in this region of Russia for a long time. “These are dashing people – they do not like the authorities, morals are more free. Zhirik’s escapades were better for them than soviet tediousness from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. They saw themselves in the Liberal Democratic Party, both in Furgal, and in [the senator from the Amur region, at one time a popular politician in the region, Ivan] Abramov. “

The political strategist notes that this year the LDPR campaigned in the Far East rather weakly. In his opinion, this can be explained by some kind of agreement on the appointment of a State Duma deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Mikhail Degtyarev to the governor of the Khabarovsk Territory.

“But the case with Degtyarev itself severely damaged the LDPR’s reputation as leaders of the protest. Furgala was poured, this one was pushed through with twisting of arms and administrative resources. It is difficult to position oneself as fighters against the authorities in this situation. Well, the communists picked up what fell. People just wanted to show a fig, such is the mentality here, ”the interlocutor of Meduza smiles.

Political scientist Gleb Kuznetsov also speaks about the “specifics of the electorate in the Far East” and describes it in more detail. “A large number of retirees – both security officials and ex-inmates, plus a shift with its specifics. This is the first thing. And secondly, the focus of the active part of the population on small and medium-sized “out-of-the-box fishing” from driving cars to all sorts of forest stories. Among them, there is a strong fundamental distrust not even of Moscow, but of the state as such. With the arrival of Degtyarev and the history of Furgal in general, people saw that the Liberal Democratic Party is also a state, and not just its critics, ”he says. The expert mentions one more factor: ” Anti- vaccine sentiments are strong in the LDPR electorate – and Vladimir Zhirinovsky speaks from an aggressive provocative position.”

In addition, Kuznetsov notes, the Liberal Democratic Party has no bright leaders in the Far East: “The type of actively protesting oppositionist, young, not inclined to compromise, scandalous, local, is in demand here.” Under these conditions, the electorate of the Liberal Democratic Party migrated to the “main oppositional force of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation” and partially to the party “New People”, which showed good results in the Far East.

“The success of the Communist Party is not the success of the Communist Party, but just a protest. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation does not yet have a stable “base” in the Far East, ”sums up Gleb Kuznetsov.

(c)MEDUZA 2021

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