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Why I Did Not Vote For United Russia

Supporting Putin doesn’t mean renouncing one’s political independence

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

The author is a socialist leaning columnist and political analyst

The results of the elections are evident. United Russia won by a huge margin. Even severe critics have to accept that this victory was not only achieved through patronage but a conscious choice of the majority of Russians. United Russia did not just win, but won well.

Nevertheless, I personally did not vote for United Russia, and I called on all my friends to vote for one of the opposition parties – preferably the Communists. My behavior may appear a little strange, since I support the reunification of Crimea and Putin’s foreign policy. I generally like what is going on in our country today.  

The level of freedom of speech in today’s Russia is at an all-time high, probably unique. I can say the same about the general level of mass well being Of course, it’s considerably lower than that of the later Brezhnev period in a number of ways, but it’s higher than that of Khrushchev’s. Not to mention the other periods of the XX century, either the Soviet one, or before the revolution. Still, I didn’t vote for United Russia.

Who are the people who actually vote for United Russia? Surely, not only those who more or less support Putin’s policy or think that there is no alternative to Putin. Those who totally trust Putin voted for United Russia. Those, who think that “Putin knows what’s best for our country, or who think that one should stay out of Putin’s way.”

By voting for United Russia, a person is refusing to make a personal contribution to Russian policy, delegating his voice and political will to President Putin.

Unfortunately or fortunately, I’m not one of them. I support the current government, to some degree. But I’m not inclined to wholly trust either Putin or anyone else.

What  quibbles do I have with him? Almost all are social. As I have repeatedly said, I detest excessive social and economic disparities, and relatively low social benefits.

I’m willing to moderate my demands, meaning I could tolerate social and economic disparity, if the living standards of most people were improved significantly. However, given current public health, salary, and especially, pensions, to fatten oligarchs, their staff and the “creative class” financed by them, is absolutely intolerable. 

Moreover, I think that low salaries in the science and education area are demeaning. They imply that if you want to practice an interesting profession, you have to work for peanuts.  If you want to live a decent life, you  have to work for business.

It’s not just about these differences. It’s about the fact that power is not interested in discussing this. I can’t forget that when the president was asked: “Why are oil prices in our country higher than world prices,” he answered that if we lower oil prices, the consequences would be terrible.

So until my contradictions are resolved, or, at least, until the government, using reasonable arguments, persuades me that I’m wrong, I will not vote for United Russia.  And the fact that my position is very close to those of the three main opposition parties – the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and Just Russia - is a great comfort to me.

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