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Russian 2018 Presidential Election: A Template for Foreign Interference and Domestic Destabilization

The support for United Russia during the last elections may result in considerable strategic costs

Originally appeared at Nikolai Starikov blog. Translated by Andrey Medvedev

Quote:Such is the nature of politics that immediately after one electoral cycle ends, another one begins. By September 19, Russian patriots should be focusing on the 2018 presidential election race. The results of the State Duma elections are an alarming backdrop, despite the seemingly huge victory of United Russia.

Its scope and the way it was achieved reveals the basic problem of the upcoming election of the leader of one of the greatest world powers, has geopolitical implications. The global hegemon the United States of America is certainly not indifferent to who moves into the Kremlin in 2018.

I wrote about Washington's goals for the Russian presidential elections back in May 2016:

"It would not be an exaggeration to say that first and foremost, Vladimir Putin is the person standing in the way of the United States, followed by the Russian nation. The struggle for the future of the world comes down to attempts by the West to bar him from power AT ANY COST in order to wage world war."

The goal of our opponent is clear: a strong, sovereign Russia cannot be part of a new world order. They need a world war, including the largest country in the world, in order to achieve the desired result. Our partners' goal is the annihilation of the Russian state, and this is only possible by barring Vladimir Putin from the next presidency.

How does the West plan to achieve this? In 2011- 2012, Washington bet on the liberals, but that did not pan out. Today, the West is betting on a deteriorating economic situation, laying the responsibility squarely on Putin's shoulders.

Anything that supports the idea that​ "Putin is to blame for the worsening of our lives" is fodder for the US plan, which is multi-pronged. Whether they are ​​liberal, nationalist, or statist ideas, the premise the West plans to use to set up our leader, is beyond the scope of any single ideological worldview, targeting our wallets. We must remember that Russia is standing up to forces that have never had a specific system of beliefs, but merely a pragmatic ideology: pure profit. If necessary, the US will befriend terrorists and even cannibals. It will not only sacrifice Russian liberals, who failed in the 2016 elections, but even American allies like President Mubarak of Egypt and President Erdogan of Turkey.

If the United States comes closer to achieving its desired result through a United Russia victory rather than Yabloko or PARNAS, that will be fine, too.

So what is the US plan for the 2018 presidential election? I wrote about it back in June 2016:

"They will try to lower Putin's rating by driving down living standards through sanctions, which they do not intend to lift. The economic and social policies of Dmitry Medvedev's government will continue along the same neoliberal course.Every statement made by members of the Fifth Column say the same thing: they expect a real deterioration of the economic situation, setting up the public to protest in the streets. The liberals, the Fifth Column and the "Russophobics" hate Putin, so they will be there. But what is needed are the masses, the ordinary voters, and the Internet is no longer enough to con them into joining street protests. The events in Ukraine gave the Russian people a powerful inoculation, so real discomfort has to increase. Rising prices, persistent education and healthcare "reforms", the privatization of the most valuable state property will incite protests, and it's vital to give them a pretext. Today, the weakening of the economy is not only a result of the sanctions, but also the Medvedev government's liberal economic policies. Consciously or not, Ulyukayev, Nabiullina, and Medvedev are doing everything in their power to make sure that they are joined by a mob of "angry citizens" in 2017-2018."
They will say that Putin no longer has a handle on the economy, that "he is not the same Putin", and that he needs to go for the economy to recover.

On the eve of the 2018 presidential election, they will claim he is personally responsible for economic deterioration. In 2011, they stoked people's anger over "corruption", but in 2017, their righteous indignation will be about the economy.

The interests of senior United Russia officials and the US State Department are in perfect sync with the the Fifth Column. That is why, instead of loud criticism of the Russian elections, all we hear from our "Western partners" and their domestic clientele is mild grumbling. The Russian elections have not changed, but the West's assessment has. Only unconditional victory for United Russia, linked to Putin personally, will make him responsible for the economy in 2018.

Here's another quote from one of my articles:

"An overwhelming victory of United Russia in the 2016 elections will create great problems for our leader in the 2018 presidential election".

I said and wrote this in May of this year, and I am ready to repeat it now.

This is precisely the scenario being played out now in front of our eyes. The party that manages our economy has not just a parliamentary, but a constitutional majority. Virtually nobody in the country is satisfied with its management, as opposed to our foreign policy, defense, and military, which come under Putin's direct leadership. Wherever our national leader personally oversees the situation, we see success. Wherever United Russia is at the helm, which is internal politics and economics there are problems and discontent.

We must not forget that United Russia is not just the parliamentary majority in the Duma. First and foremost, it is Dmitry Medvedev, its head, and the head of government, who works tirelessly to privatize everything that is of any value in the Russian economy, transferring it to the "efficient hands" of western "investors". The members of his cabinet do likewise, and are wholeheartedly despised by most Russians.

In the very near future, United Russia will introduce social and economic initiatives that will increase public discontent. In fact, they began the day after the elections!

"The Ministry of Finance proposes to increase VAT and the tax burden on wages, according to Vedomosti speaking to a number of federal officials. The Ministry of Finance suggested making insurance deductions from the entire wage at a flat rate of 29%, bringing it down to 26% by 2019. The finance ministry offered an alternative: to increase VAT to 20% in 2017, raise the 10% preferential rate to 12%, and then, starting in 2019, increase the latter by two percentage points a year until it reaches the non-preferential rate of 20%."
On the very first day (!) after the elections, Putin's press secretary had to refute the idea of the "victorious United Russia and its Ministry of Finance":

Peskov: The Russian President did not make the decision to increase VAT.

"It's true that all these issues related to taxes are discussed with the President, but I want to remind you that at the end of the day, it is entirely the government's prerogative," according RIA Novosti.

On the same day after the election, we heard other ideas that Russian society would never accept, including a juvenile judiciary that the President has spoken out against.

"The country needs special juvenile courts," said the head of the Russian Supreme Court.
RIA News

The template for destabilizing the situation is as follows:

An initiative that seeds discontent.

Who is the author?

United Russia.

United Russia is the party of the President.

It's Putin's fault.

Since there is precious little time left until 2017-2018, the US is trying to undermine Putin's authority which, thanks to United Russia's last campaign, he "transferred" to it. International forces that cannot easily "rape" the planet because Putin's Russia opposes it, will have to rush. They will have about eighteen months to bring popular discontent to a boiling point. No need to be an oracle to predict that the next 1 1/2 years will see a parade of unpopular laws and initiatives. All of them will be made on behalf of United Russia, and the responsibility for them will fall on Putin.

Who is to blame for the juvenile judiciary, falling incomes, the shortfall in budget revenues due to tax increases? Who will start talking about increasing the retirement age against the backdrop of frozen pension indexes? Who will continue the destructive reform of healthcare and possibly education? Who will keep trying to privatize parts of PROFITABLE state property? United Russia! The party that calls itself "the President's party".

So who will ultimately be made responsible for these unpopular measures? Vladimir Putin.

Support for United Russia during the last elections may have strategic costs.

There are two ways out of this impasse:

Either Putin must rebuild United Russia and exercise tight control over it, using the constitutional majority to transform the situation. (The first initiatives of the "rebuilt party" do not inspire optimism.)

Or he would have to return to the position defined by the Constitution, being non-partisan, standing above the fray. But this would be difficult in a situation where 90 percent of Russia's political machinery is run by United Russia.

If Vladimir Putin allows his name to be tied to every United Russia initiative, it will weaken him in 2018. Those who say that United Russia will "change everything for the better" must answer one simple question: "When?"

When will the constitutional reform take place? When will the president obtain additional powers? When will economic policy change? Will it be in October, 2016? In mid-November? At the beginning of December? When will we see some "patriotic legislation"? Tell us, we want to know; all of us, regardless of whether we supported United Russia in this election or not.

It will be interesting to see how the propagandists who told us about those imminent changes, insisting that "United Russia is the party of Putin" begin to weasel their way out and explain away the lack of change. Let me remind you United Russia has the constitutional majority in the Duma; it has the opportunity to not only make ANY laws it wants, but to form ANY government it sees fit. Not to mention complete power at the local level. What else is needed to improve the situation?

We must expose the propagandists whose lies deceived many people. They said that "United Russia changed", persuading Putin to lend his support during the election campaign.

Incidentally, the exact same situation was unfolding in Ukraine when Yanukovich's entourage was trying to convince him to support the nationalists to win the elections, while urging the voters to believe that a victory for the Party of Regions would allow promises such as making Russian the second official language, and expanding cooperation with the Customs Union, to be fulfilled. In the end, it was the Ukrainian President and his voters who were deceived.

On September 18, 2016, Russia was divided into three camps. The first followed their emotions and voted for United Russia, thinking that by doing so they would support the President, the second camp supported other parties, and the third camp did not go to the polls at all, feeling that "reaching the bottom" was being artificially attributed Putin and shoved down their throats.

There is one universal rule: if someone appeals to your emotions rather than facts, they're out to manipulate you. Put your emotions aside. Lacking evidence of an improving economy, United Russia appealed to emotions and trumpeted successes that the party had nothing to do with. For example, the reunification of Russia and the Crimea. Our thanks for Crimea go to the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol, as well as to Putin and Shoigu. But what did United Russia have to do with it?

Back in June 2016 I wrote the following:

"By voting for United Russia, you will be voting for the neoliberal economic policies of the Medvedev government. We are basically being invited to approve this economic policy."
The problem of the current political cycle is that the majority of those who voted for United Russia did not understand this. Although they did not vote for the neo-liberal policies of the Medvedev government, they made it possible for them to be carried out, leading to disappointment and a feeling that twenty million voters were cheated.

Russia's patriotic parties warned the people that a United Russia victory would mean a juvenile judiciary, privatization, and falling living standards. Had you voted for the patriots, we would never have allowed it. But patriotic parties were not allowed to get into the Duma. And the first statements coming out of the victors' camp United Russia confirmed their worst fears.