Another round Researchers break down the candidates Russian political parties are fielding for next month’s voting in occupied Ukraine — Meduza


Occupation forces in Ukraine plan to stage another round of voting next month, from September 8 to 10, to fill seats in the parliamentary bodies created by the Russian authorities. Journalists at the investigative news outlet iStories and researchers at the Conflict Intelligence Team studied the candidate lists in these regions. They learned that more than a thousand names will be on the ballots: 220 in the Zaporizhzhia region, 191 in the Kherson region, 577 and 388, respectively, in the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics.” Meduza summarizes the report’s findings.

In the annexed territories of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, 71 percent of all candidates are local residents. Among the competing political parties, the Communists (KPRF) and Just Russia are fielding higher percentages of locals (89 percent and 85 percent, respectively), while LDPR and United Russia (57 percent and 55 percent) are running more outsiders. In Donetsk and Luhansk, however, United Russia’s candidates are mostly local residents.

Journalists found evidence that roughly half of the candidates registered with KPRF and Just Russia are retirees and housewives with little connection to politics. But only 27 percent of LDPR’s candidates seem to meet this description, and just three percent of United Russia’s appear to be dilettantes. 

The names of some federal politicians will also appear on these ballots, though it’s unclear if any of them would actually take seats in occupied Ukraine. For example, LDPR head and sitting State Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky leads his party’s lists in all four annexed regions. Igor Kastyukevich, another member of Russia’s national parliament, is listed with United Russia on ballots in the Zaporizhzhia region. (iStories notes that Kastyukevich has been involved in deporting children from Ukraine.) Additionally, Just Russia nominated State Duma deputy Elena Drapeko in the Donetsk voting.

United Russia is running at least two largely unknown Kremlin staffers as candidates in Ukraine. In Zaporizhzhia, the party has nominated Oleg Nesterov, whom the U.S. Treasury sanctioned in December 2022 for his “direct involvement in the planning for and implementation of filtration points in Russia-occupied Ukraine” and for his part in coordinating Moscow’s “sham ‘accession referendum’” held in September 2022.

In Kherson, another Kremlin official named Igor Deryugin will join United Russia’s party list. Less is known about Deryugin, but iStories reports that he works in the presidential administration and previously served in Russia’s border troops and the Federal Security Service. 

Ballots across the occupied regions will also feature soldiers who have participated in the invasion and local residents whom the Ukrainian authorities have already accused of collaborating with the enemy. LDPR, for example, is running several candidates who have already appeared on ballots in other regions. LDPR is also the only party to nominate someone with a criminal record. Curiously, both KPRF and Just Russia have named urologist Nikolai Ryzhechenkov on their party lists in Zaporizhzhia.

Compared to typical Russian political contests, the most peculiar feature of these party lists in occupied Ukraine is the large number of married couples and entire generations of families among the candidates.

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