The Moscow Times reports:
An independent election-monitoring group criticized election officials Monday for refusing to register all but one opposition candidate for next month’s Moscow City Duma elections, saying none of them would have won seats even if they had run.
“If elections were held according to European standards, these candidates could have become deputies,” Golos election monitor Andrei Buzin said at a news conference.
However, in current conditions where “election laws aren’t observed,” the opposition candidates would have won only 10 percent to 20 percent of the vote, far from the majority required by the law to secure seats, Buzin said.
A party has to collect at least 7 percent of the vote to get into the Duma, but all opposition candidates were nominated to run in single-mandate districts, where the winner must get a majority of the vote. Voters will elect 18 candidates on party lists and 17 in single-mandate districts in the Oct. 11 vote.
Buzin said that even if the opposition candidates had not won, they would have posed a problem for the ruling United Russia party if they had been allowed to run.
By raising “inconvenient” questions during the campaign, the candidates “could have boosted the turnout of protest voters and sent down United Russia’s [popularity] rating,” Buzin said.
Repeated calls to the Moscow election commission went unanswered late Monday afternoon. The committee has cited problems with the signatures submitted in support of the bids as the reason for denying them.
None of the Solidarity opposition movement’s seven candidates was registered. Right Cause fielded four candidates, and Yelena Guseva, a part-time deputy in a Moscow district legislature, was the only one allowed to run.
Among the other opposition candidates were Alexander Zakondyrin, an aide to billionaire Alexander Lebedev, a fierce critic of Mayor Yury Luzhkov; and Konstantin Merzlikin, a senior member of the Russian People’s Democratic Union led by former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov.
In the current City Duma, 29 seats belong to United Russia, four to the Communists and two to Yabloko.