It has been a busy season for elections in Russia, with gubernatorial contests in St. Petersburg and Sverdlovsk (Ekaterinburg), the presidential election in Chechnya, and mayoral elections in several large Russian cities. This round of elections was, across the board, a striking contrast to previous ones, yet all the 2003 elections looked surprisingly alike.
Key events such as the election of Valentina Matvienko as governor of Russia’s “second capital” or Akhmad Kadyrov as Chechen president were clearly influenced by the Kremlin. The Volgograd mayoral campaign did not appear important enough to warrant federal interference. The flow of events in the months preceding the elections in Volgograd, however, proved that the Kremlin’s “managed democracy” has a new approach and has spread to Russia’s regions. The major feature of this new approach is the absence of a real choice for the electorate. […]