Capturing the Duma Elections

The State Duma elections are only two months away. And at HackPack, we’re thinking what you may need to provide unique and interesting stories.

Last week, we teamed up with Reuters TIMA and organized an event to discuss which regions may be most interesting to visit, what new deputies could stand out and what stories you should be keeping your eyes on.

Here’s a short list of the top stories as highlighted by Dmitry Oreshkin, an independent political scientist and analyst for Tsentrizbirkom from 1995 -2007 (view the entire presentation in Russia here).

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Dmitry Oreshkin presenting at Reuters.

Return of Direct Voting

In 2003, the Russian government replaced direct elections with party lists. However, with a new set of laws implemented after the 2011–12 demonstrations, 225 districts will directly elect their representatives. To land a spot in the State Duma, these candidates must receive at least 25 percent of the local vote.

Oreshkin pointed out a few specific districts that could demonstrate a high level of competition :

-Irkutsky Okrug
-Krasnoyarsky Krai
-Astrakhan
-Kaliningrad
-St. Petersburg
-Moscow

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Crimea

Russia’s newest electoral districts provide no precedent as to how they will vote, plus it hasn’t had the easiest integration into Russia. Oreshkin expects a political environment similar to what was in Russia 15 years ago: combatting politicians and views, the press playing an active role and attempts to stop falsifications.

The government has designated four direct voting districts within Crimea, be sure to give them a close look!

Societal Checks & Balances

Oreshkin and Grigory Melkonyants, cofounder of GOLOS, described their work with the Narodnya IzbirCom in 2011 and how it will play a role in monitoring elections in 2016.

In 2011, they placed volunteers at 5% of Moscow’s voting locations and counted the votes. The figures caused many people to wake up to ballot stuffing and was a main reason for the subsequent demonstrations.

This year, they are spreading throughout Russia, and through a partnership with Dozhd, they will live stream the voting results before government officials can announce the official tally. Their hope is that they can influence these regions to ensure fair elections.

So if you need good statistics from throughout the region or are interested in participating as a ballot counter, follow the Narodny IzbirCom.

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For more information about the candidates in the upcoming election, visit candidates.golosinfo.org. This resource provides a political history for individual candidates throughout Russia.

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Keep your eyes out for future HackPack events to meet experts, enjoy some drinks and spend time with local and foreign correspondents.

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