Primorsky Krai has become the only region in Russia where there will be no candidate from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in the gubernatorial elections this year. This decision was made at the XXV conference of the Primorsky branch of the Communist Party. In the last election, the communist candidate was close to winning, but the results of the vote were annulled, and according to the results of the new vote, Oleg Kozhemyako from United Russia was declared the winner.
In a statement issued following the conference, the Primorye Communists criticized "the norms governing the organization of elections, the conduct of voting and the establishment of its results." Multi-day voting, voting outside the precincts, "electronic" elections, "municipal filter" - all this, according to the conference delegates, leads to the fact that "the ways of obtaining a predetermined result [in elections] are expanding."
Another reason why the Communist Party of the Russian Federation refused to participate in the gubernatorial elections in Primorye, scheduled for September 2023, was the exclusion of party members from grassroots election commissions. According to Anatoly Dolgachev, First Secretary of the Primorsky Territory Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, "with the exception of the Sovetsky district of Vladivostok, in the remaining four districts of the city, the Communists are included in only 15% of the PEC [district election commissions]".
“We do not consider it possible to participate in the elections, because we were tied hand and foot. Without control over the precinct commissions, we can easily "draw" the fourth or fifth place. It only discredits the party.”
However, the communists urged their supporters to come to the polls to ruin the ballots.
Experts disagree about what actually caused the demarche of the Communist Party in Primorye. Thus, political scientist Vyacheslav Belyakov considers the arguments given by the communists unconvincing.
“It seems to me that Anatoly Dolgachev was looking all this time for a reason to somehow refuse to participate in this campaign. Because Dolgachev has neither the strength nor the means to conduct this campaign, as well as the desire to conduct this campaign normally. And to participate in it and be disgraced, taking not even the second, but the third place, especially after the success of the communists in 2018, means completely losing your own reputation, including as the head of the regional branch of the main opposition party in the country.”
Other experts, analyzing the pre-election alignment in Primorye after the demarche of the communists, call the upcoming gubernatorial elections a "referendum on confidence" in the current United Russia governor Oleg Kozhemyako. So, for example, the LDPR nominated as a candidate not Andrey Andreichenko, who won 25.16% of the votes in the last gubernatorial elections, but a little-known deputy of the Vladivostok Duma, Inna Kosheleva.
Until the last moment, everyone was waiting for the nomination of a State Duma deputy from the New People party Roza Chemeris, very popular in the region, but in her Telegram channel she hinted that she was not going to do this: “If I participate in these gubernatorial elections in Primorye,” the main candidate will not win. At least not in the way he wants. <…> But next year the presidential elections. It is unwise to shake up an already not very stable situation - the governor himself is doing an excellent job with this. ”
The decision of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation to abandon the struggle for the chair of the head of the Primorsky Territory looks unexpected, since the candidates from this party traditionally participated in the election of governors in all major regions. In 2023, heads of 21 subjects will be elected in Russia.
The previous election of the governor of Primorye (2018) became one of the most scandalous in Russia in recent years. According to the results of the first round, the first two places were taken by the communist Andrei Ishchenko (24.63% of the vote) and the acting governor, United Russia Andrei Tarasenko (45.56%). During the counting of votes following the results of the second round, Ishchenko was in the lead all the time, but when only a few percent of the votes remained uncounted, Tarasenko unexpectedly pulled ahead.
Ishchenko announced numerous violations, including the entry of incorrect data into the GAS "Vybory" system. CEC Chairman Ella Pamfilova acknowledged the violations, but recommended that the Primorsky Electoral Commission cancel the results not in specific areas, but in their entirety. Ishchenko tried to challenge this decision, but to no avail. Oleg Kozhemyako has already become the “candidate of power” in the re-elections, he won them in the first round with a result of 61.88% of the vote. The election commission did not allow Ishchenko to participate in the elections, citing an insufficient number of signatures collected to pass the “municipal filter”. Since 2022, Andrey Ishchenko has been in the pre-trial detention center in Vladivostok, he is accused of fraud.