Reflections of Duma Elections

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Duma Elections, which lasted three days within the scope of Covid-19 pandemic measures, were held between 17-19 September 2021. After the election, which lasted three days, the results were announced after Russia’s Central Election Commission completed the counts. According to the election results, the United Russia Party, the party of Russian President Vladimir Putin, won with 49.82% of the vote. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) came in second with 18.93% of the vote, while the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) came in third with 7.55% of the vote. Among the parties that crossed the electoral threshold were Fair Russia with 7.46% of the vote and the New People’s Party with 5.32%.

Developments before the election also include clues to the implications of the results. In particular, Alexei Navalni, known for his opposition to Putin and backing a large population, was a serious competitor for power. Because Navalni had gained a reputation for revealing the corruption in the national/international media and intensely criticizing Putin since 2009. Navalni, who is considered one of Putin’s biggest rivals, has been punished for his allegations against Putin. Therefore, he has been in prison since 2 February 2021.

Navalni continues his opposition to Putin, in spite of being in prison. Indeed, Navalni launched a movement called “Smart Voting” and called on Russians to vote wisely, to ensure that Putin’s party, the United Russia Party, lost in some constituencies. However, this movement has faced some obstacles. Apple and Google, which had to obey to the threat of Russian economic sanctions a few days before the election, removed the “Smart Voting” app from the AppStore and Google Play Store and restricted access to the app’s website.

The election atmosphere, which was entered with all these restrictions and obstacles, has been the subject of debate both by the Russian opposition and the international public. Some of the events that occurred or allegedly occurred during the election have also been placed widely. For example, it has been claimed that cyberattacks on “online voting” systems occurred with the start of the election. The international community, including the United States and European countries, has questioned the election in Russia and claimed that the legitimacy of the election is problematic. In this context, it would be meaningful to examine how the event was mentioned in the press organs of Western countries.

Newsweek, one of the US based newspapers, claimed that the three-day election witnessed repression and fraud, which overshadowed the democratic election.[1] Like the United States, Britain has said the elections are “unacceptable.” The Financial Times, a British newspaper, reported that the ruling party had wiped out the vote after its repressive policies and intimidation of Navalni. [2]

Russia, on the other hand, has defended the legitimacy of the election by making some statements at this point. Moscow considers UK’s negative statements about the elections both as interference in its own internal affairs and reacts to the ignorance of the effort in the newly passed voting system (e-voting).

In the German press, the idea is that Russia is moving towards autocracy and that the elections are not a real election. There have been statements about the elections that have actually led to the ruling powers tightening each other’s ranks.[3] Similar criticisms are not only in the foreign press; it is also been placed in the Russian press. The opposition wing claimed the voting was the most dishonest in the country’s recent history. News based on analysis are carried out by independent statisticians indicated that half of the votes gain by the ruling party were fraudulent.[4]

As a result, given the process before and after the election, opposition groups within the country and many Western countries have taken a critical approach towards the elections. In doing so, they have shown evidence of technical glitches in the cameras that allow the Russian election process to start with bans, their approach to election observers and the traceability of the polls. They claimed that this whole process made “the functioning of democracy in the context of Western values” problematic.

The articles on our website are the personal opinions of the author and may not reflect the institutional view of Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Research (ANKASAM).

[1] “Russia Accuses U.S. Of Hacking Its Election”, Newsweek,, (Erişim Tarihi: 21.09.2021).

[2] “Ruling Party Set to Sweep Russian Election After Navalny Crackdown”, Financial Times,, (Erişim Tarihi: 20.09.2021)

[3]  “Opinion: The Russian Election Wasn’t One”, DW,, (Erişim Tarihi: 20.09.2021)

[4] “Statisticians Claim Half of Pro-Kremlin Votes in Duma Elections Were False”, The Moscow Times,, (Erişim Tarihi: 21.09.2021)

Hüseyin YELTİN
Hüseyin YELTİN
Hüseyin Yeltin, Sakarya Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü mezunudur. Yüksek lisans eğitimini de Sakarya Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı'nda tamamlayan Yeltin, halihazırda Anadolu Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Bilim Dalı'nda doktora eğitimini sürdürmekte ve ANKASAM'ın çalışmalarına da katkıda bulunmaktadır.