Russia feels the political heat as regional and pension debt explodes

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin – here seen opening a ‘light festival’ – set a precedent when he stepped down in 2013 with two years left in his term; he barely avoided a run-off in the election that followed (source: dpa)
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin – here seen opening a ‘light festival’ – set a precedent when he stepped down in 2013 with two years left in his term; he barely avoided a run-off in the election that followed (source: dpa)

As the Russian economy moves further into recession, the Kremlin is looking ahead to next year’s parliamentary elections with mounting concern. It fears that growing economic hardship will cause people to turn against the government. Last month’s regional elections showed just how far the authorities are willing to go to prevent the remnants of Russia’s political opposition from scoring any gains.

Still mindful of the uproar that followed widespread voting fraud at the December 2011 elections to the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, the authorities have shifted the emphasis toward preventing opposition candidates from even running. The main trick is simply to invalidate signa...

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