The United Russia party continues its assault on electoral process. Its new targets are the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) and its Chairman, Alexander Veshnyakov.
According to the current rules, fifteen members of the CEC, which term expires on March 26, are nominated by the President, Federation Council, and the Duma (five candidates by each). It is mandatory that all CEC members had judicial background.
Last Friday, the United Russia-dominated Duma adopted an amendment annulling the requirement for judicial background, paving the way for the CEC to include party "apparatchiks" and political technologists. Many fear that this will result in CEC’s excessive politicization.
Now, United Russia is after the rule that each Duma faction nominated only one candidate to the CEC. First Vice-Speaker of the Duma, edinoross Oleg Morozov, argues that the nomination quota should reflect the representation of parties in the Duma. If adopted, this amendment would allow United Russia nominating up to four CEC members, giving the party an enormous influence over the whole election process in the run up to the upcoming Duma election.
Regardless of whether United Russia’s demands are reasonable or not, their timing is very suspicious: all the nominations must be announced before March 1. Changing the rules of the CEC formation at this point is counterproductive and can hardly result in improved performance. The opposite is more likely: the CEC — and its remarkably independent for a Russian bureaucrat Chairman — will be weakened, if not paralyzed.
Is this United Russia’s real objective? Is United Russia this nervous?