Opposition parties are feeling the squeeze on advertising and as elections draw nearer the Communist Party is taking the matter to the ministry of justice.
Their eye-catching and damning poster, deriding Prime Minister Putin’s party as an outfit of “crooks and thieves,” has come under concentrated flak and so the reds are leading the charge to challenge the government.
The communists say that the clampdown comes as United Russia resorts to administrative coercion to get the 60 per cent result it is used to, fearing a dismal 30 or 40 per cent if political processes are left to their own natural devices.
The crooks and thieves reference breaks the rules forbidding “expletives, obscene or offensive images, comparisons or expressions,” officials say. “The committee did not like the word crooks but, according to any Russian dictionary it does not belong to any category of obscene language,” Alexei Fedorov, first secretary of the Communist Party Regional Committee in Tomsk Region, told Kommersant. He likened the ban on his party’s slogan to censorship.
“We wanted to hang a banner with a portrait of [Communist leader Gennady] Zyuganov and the slogan, ‘How do you live under capitalism’?” Lyudmila Vorobyova, first secretary of the Regional Committee for Tver Region, told Kommersant. “But they refused us. Businessmen were afraid of the consequences.”
The party’s arm in Nizhny Novgorod also complained. The party will appeal to the ministry of justice in each case, a party lawyer said.
The smarting communists said that “without administrative resources” it would be impossible for United Russia to get the numbers they hoped, “they are not ready for the modernization that President Medvedev speaks of,” Igor Lebedev, leader of the parliamentary party in the lower house said.
Fellow oppositionists in a Just Russia have cited problems of their own in Kursk, Chelyabinsk and Novosibirsk Regions, blaming United Russia’s ambitions to get a high electoral percentage. Oleg Mikheyev, head of A Just Russia’s electoral headquarters said that business people had been threatened with losing their businesses if they cooperated with his party.
Only United Russia and Yabloko have not reported problems with election advertising. Sergei Mitrokhin, Yabloko leader, said he had chosen the better part of valor as he didn’t want to risk not being registered in the run up to the polls.
Georgy Chizhov, vice president of the Centre for Poltical Technologies says that administrators’ jobs have become so caught up with the United Russia web of power that it is no surprise they manipulate elections to keep their positions.
But United Russia said the problems their competitors facde had nothing to do with the elections. “Of course, there are instances where there is administrative anger. But the victims often create the problems themselves to draw attention to themselves,” Alexei Chesnakov, head of the Public Council of United Russia’s General Council