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Early elections, anyone? Russian politicians renew talk of holding the 2021 State Duma elections in the spring

Source: Meduza
Alexey Druzhinin / President of the Russian Federation’s Press Service / TASS / VIDA Press

On Tuesday, October 6, parliamentary faction leaders are scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the possibility of moving up the 2021 State Duma elections, reported Open Media, citing three unnamed sources from parties in parliament.

The first time the State Duma brought up the possibility of rescheduling the vote was during the discussion on the amendments to the constitution in June 2020. Open Media’s sources in the Presidential Executive Office reported that the Kremlin is still exploring the option of holding early parliamentary elections in the spring. April 9–10 is being discussed as a possible date, a source close to the Kremlin said. 

The State Duma’s Deputy Speaker, Igor Lebedev of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) (party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s son), said that the party is prepared to either support the topic of early elections, or initiate such a discussion during the upcoming meeting with Putin. According to Lebedev, the LDPR considers April the most suitable time for conducting the vote. 

Open Russia’s source from the party A Just Russia informally confirmed that the parliamentary faction leaders could themselves bring up the topic of early elections during tomorrow’s meeting. However, the deputy head of A Just Russia, Oleg Shein, said that the party hasn’t discussed rescheduling the elections for the spring.

Representatives from the Communist Party (KPRF) and United Russia declined to comment on these reports. In September, KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov said that if regional and local elections were pushed to the spring, then the State Duma elections could be held at the same time (however, Russia’s regional and local elections took place as scheduled, from September 11–13). The Secretary of United Russia’s General Council, Andrey Turchak, supported holding an early parliamentary vote back in March.

According to Open Media, Russia’s well-established parties aren’t the only ones preparing for early elections. The new parties created with the Kremlin’s support earlier this year — specifically, those that, as a result of the regional parliamentary elections, have already obtained the right to run in the State Duma elections without collecting signatures — are also preparing for an early vote. This includes the parties New People, Green Alternative, and For Truth. “The new parties [have been instructed] to be ready for March. As such, we’re carrying out a lot of urgent conceptual work now,” an unnamed source from one of the new parties told Open Media. 

A Meduza source close to the Presidential Executive Office claims that “so far, according to the timing of party events for United Russia and the new parties, and of news events for the media, it’s September, everything is on schedule.” According to the source, neither United Russia nor the new parties are ready for early elections. And a decision on early elections definitely won’t be made during the upcoming meeting between Putin and the parliamentary faction leaders. “The event will be held in video link format, which means it will mostly like be [unremarkable], although they are expecting proposals from him [Putin] on the transfer of the Duma’s opposition party leaders to the Federation Council under the presidential quota,” Meduza’s source said.

Kommersant’s sources also said that the 2021 State Duma elections will take place in September, as planned. This question has already been decided, two sources close to the Presidential Executive Office told the newspaper. Another knowledgeable source said that the only option for early elections would have been to hold them in September 2020, but KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov opposed this idea. Postponing the election date doesn’t make any sense now, one of the newspaper’s sources added. 

Story by Alexander Baklanov and Andrey Pertsev

Translation by Eilish Hart

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