Making life difficult. Russian lawmakers rush to tighten legislation ahead of the 2021 State Duma elections

In the lead up to the close of the State Duma’s fall 2020 session on December 24, Russian lawmakers were working in “turbo mode.” In a matter of days, they submitted and successfully adopted — although sometimes only in the first reading — an array of bills that will seriously tighten the country’s legislation concerning “foreign agents,” public demonstrations, election campaigning, and “educational activities.” Generally speaking, lawmakers from the ruling party, United Russia, introduced these initiatives, though they were sometimes joined by their colleagues from nominal opposition parties. Politicians and experts alike told Meduza that the new legislation will make it much more difficult for opposition parties to nominate candidates, run campaigns, organize public rallies, and monitor the integrity of elections in Russia. All of which will affect the State Duma elections set to take place in 2021.

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Confident but not uncontested. Internal campaign documents show that Russia’s ruling political party has a plan hold onto the State Duma and beat Alexey Navalny’s strategic voting initiative

The leaders of United Russia, the party that has dominated national politics since it was founded roughly two decades ago, fully expect to lose seats in next year’s parliamentary elections, but they have a plan to maintain their constitutional majority in the State Duma, according to campaign documents obtained by Meduza. In the 2021 races, Russia’s “party of power” intends to nominate “specialists in socially significant or socially approved spheres of activity,” and it’s looking for ways to beat “Smart Vote,” the strategic voting initiative spearheaded by opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s team.

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