KGB Manual on How to Win "Elections": First, Make Pseudo-Parties, Then Have Them Simply Buy Their Votes
Previously, the Guardian reported that the Kremlin was engaged in manufacturing sham opposition parties in order to further manipulate election outcomes. Now, the Guardian reports that those parties are moving forward to actually buy the votes of Russian citizens, focusing on the poor. What's most disturbing about this behavior is not that the proud clan of KGB spies that occupies the Kremlin would engage in it, that should suprise nobody. What's so sickening is the total lack of opposition from any corner of the country.
Roll up, roll up: get your blue jeans and politics here! United Russia, the party which acts as a legislative sledgehammer for the Kremlin, is opening bargain-basement shops with a weather eye on next year's parliamentary elections.
A cut-price furniture store jointly run by the party and a local business opened this week in Nizhny Novgorod, 250 miles east of Moscow. United Russia bosses have said no profit will be made and denied it is a ploy to curry favour with voters. However, a source inside the party told the Kommersant newspaper the venture promised to be "very beneficial".
"Poor people will be able to buy products in shops with the logo of the party for much less money and will start to trust United Russia," the source said. "It's a simple idea and it'll win political points."
Similar "social" shops selling cheap furniture, clothes and shoes are being opened by United Russia in poor regions across the country. A clothes store opened by the party in Kirov offers pairs of jeans for 100 roubles (£2) to 400 roubles, and T-shirts for 30 roubles. War veterans and the disabled get a discount.
Rival parties have threatened to go to court to prove the shops violate electoral law. "Politically one can make this conclusion: the campaign for elections to the state duma has already begun," said Vadim Solovyev, a secretary of the central committee of the Communist party.