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Duma elections will be a farce: poll

The upcoming State Duma elections will be a mere imitation of real the thing and ruling United Russia will manipulate the polls. So says the majority of the general public, according to a recent poll.

The Levada Center found that 54 percent of respondents think that these parliamentary elections will be faked and that 62 percent think that any dirty tactics involved will work only in United Russia's favor.

But the jury is out among the political pundits, and the lack of trust in the elections could be no more than a reflection of the population's general suspicion of the political institutions inherited from the wild 90s.

Less than a farce

"It's not even an imitation of an election, it bears no relationship to an election anymore. What [Kremlin chief ideologist Vladislav] Surkov tells [Vladimir] Churov, [head of the Election Committee] is what will happen. It's already been decided," Vladimir Pribylovsky, head of the Panorama think tank and critic of Prime Minister Putin, told The Moscow News.

Widespread malaise

But you need to look at the context for the sneers and raised eyebrows. "Most political institutions don't have the public's trust. Real faith is placed only in a few institutions, these are the president, the Russian Orthodox Church, the army and the FSB. Other institutions like the courts, parliamentary parties, elections -- they don't have a very high level of trust," Sergei Markov, United Russia Duma deputy, told The Moscow News.

"You can't look at the mistrust in the elections without the mistrust in the rest," he said.

So United Russia comes out of this picture pretty well, despite the poll, he claims. "Because United Russia is not connected with only the election institutions, United Russia is connected with the president and FSB, which are trusted by the people. They vote for the president and the prime minister."

"They like the president because he's the main boss, and they like Putin because he could at least do something in the country, and hate everyone else who has sucked up to them."

Electoral dream or nightmare?

Markov says that voters will keep coming out to vote for United Russia and a better future and hope that "elections will be fair. And for this hope they will vote."

But Pribylovsky says the situation is even worse than it seems and that the electorate is becoming ever more jaded and will just put up with it. "People are used to it. Half of them don't even go out to vote. In fact, more than half. When they said in 2007 that 60 to 70 per cent of people came out to vote that's not true."

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