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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

INSIDE RUSSIA: How Much The Elections Actually Cost




The presidential elections have concluded with a happy ending, of which no one had any doubt. But one question remains: How much did these elections cost?


At first glance, not much. There's no comparison with the cost of U.S. election campaigns.


According to experts, Grigory Yavlinsky's campaign cost him from $15 million to $20 million; Vladimir Putin's - $10 million; and Gennady Zyuganov's - $3 million to $4 million.


But do those figures include all election costs? No.


In addition to the monetary resources spent on the Russian elections, there's the important point of costs for administrative resources.


Take, for example, Putin's "official" flight to Grozny on an Su-27.


Let's suppose that Putin had to pay for the fuel, the pilot's services, television time - for that flight alone, he would have had to pay more money than was in his official coffers.


In Russia, there are two types of pre-election expenditures: cash from various sources, and money that candidates save by using administrative resources.


But there's yet a third type of expenditure, the most important: bits of property that the authorities give to sponsors.


For example, in November 1999, the All Russia bloc was created, with LUKoil considered its sponsor. But after the government got rid of the former president of the oil company Transneft and named as its head Semyon Vainshtok, one of the top managers of LUKoil, LUKoil didn't finance All Russia.


At first glance, the elections cost only kopeks, some $10 million to $20 million. But if you add in administrative currency, you get a totally different picture.


Of the $170 billion gross domestic product, 6 percent to 7 percent of that has been spent on elections in various ways - with state companies changing directors; with private companies changing owners; with loans given to the "right" governors; and with taxes forgiven to the "right" corporations.


The volume of resources that the opposition can mobilize can't even approach the volume of resources that the state can mobilize. You can talk all you want about how much money Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has; but there's no way Luzhkov can shuffle the presidents of Transneft.


The main difference between Russian democracy and Western democracy is this: In the West, only funds legally held in election coffers are used; but in Russia, elections are paid for primarily by using administrative currency. This is the mechanism that guarantees the hereditary succession of power.


On the one hand, that's good. There is nothing worse than revolutions and the bloody partitioning of property, no matter what they might be called: revolts, elections or the fight against corruption.


On the other hand, that's bad. Because if you look closely at the economic features of this leadership, it's hard to find even one that looks attractive.


Yulia Latynina writes for Segodnya.