Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Disqualified Parties to Run in Constituencies

Familiar politicians whose parties have been knocked out of the electoral race are still in the running and said Thursday that they expect to win seats in Russia's new parliament.

Candidates such as the brash millionaire Konstantin Borovoi and hardline nationalists Sergei Baburin and Nikolai Pavlov have all seen their parties fail to qualify to the Dec. 12 ballot, but they can still be elected.

"The Russian All-People's Union has dropped out of the race for deputy mandates on party lists", hardline party leader Baburin announced Thursday. "I personally will run in the 130th electoral district in Omsk".

Of 33 political parties and coalitions that prepared slates of candidates for the lower house of parliament, or State Duma, only 13 gathered the required 100, 000 signatures without violating complex rules set by the Central Election Commission.

For candidates in the remaining two-thirds of the parties, that came as a serious blow, because 225 seats in the Duma, or half its membership, are now beyond their reach.

"We cannot speak of honest rules", said Roman Chervontsev, acting coordinator for the New Russia bloc, one of eight parties that the electoral commission disqualified Wednesday for breaching the rules. "There were very early deadlines; if the president really wanted fair elections, he could have delayed them a month".

Asked at a press conference whether the election commission was deliberately weeding out opponents to President Boris Yeltsin, Baburin said that "unfortunately" he believed that was true.

The daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta said Thursday that: "Slowly but surely both opposition structures and those which could form part of the opposition are being eliminated. It is curious that those who broke the rules were exclusively 'politically inconvenient' blocs".

Baburin went further to charge that the government had blacklisted certain parties and had stolen 22, 000 signatures in support of his party, enough to have made up the deficit and qualified them for the ballot.

The election commission's chairman said that Baburin's party had been disqualified because it had collected too many of its 105, 000 signatures from the Moscow region - in violation of rules requiring a more even national distribution.

That was in part due to a still more obscure kink in the rules, which states that signatures from ethnic Russians in Moldova, Latvia and other former Soviet republics are counted as Moscow votes.

Some party leaders have spoken of suing the election commission, but an election official said that Russia's court system would not grant plaintiffs quick relief.

"To sue would make no sense at all", said Yury Tarabasov, one of the Election Commission's 21 members. "There is only a month left to the election, but the court's procedural process is very stretched. They would have to wait in line and never get a hearing in time".

Candidates from the disqualified parties still have a chance to get elected, however, if they can raise enough votes in their home districts.

Any candidate who, by Sunday, gathers the signatures of 1 percent of their region's residents - typically several thousand people - can appear on the Dec. 12 ballot without a party association, an official at the Central Electoral Commission said Thursday.

Some 1, 149 such individual candidates were trying to gather enough signatures on Thursday, the official added.

Half of the seats to the new Duma will be decided by direct election of local candidates in 225 districts. The other half will be divided among the most popular parties on the ballot, and it is the right to take a portion of these seats that the 13 approved parties have won.

Even though excluding the party ticket from the ballot in effect eliminates half the pie before the eating has begun, some parties are still trying to get their entire bloc of candidates onto the district ballots.

"We have 45 or 50 candidates, and all will campaign on the direct constituent elections", said Konstantin Borovoi, the millionaire businessman whose August party failed to collect 100, 000 signatures.

He said he has gathered 2, 000 signatures for his personal candidacy since starting on Wednesday, and hopes to gather the required amount by Sunday.

Other parties said only some of their members would run as individuals because the exclusion of the party proves that the rules are stacked against them.