On 10 September, Russia held regular election. Everyone understands what kind of “elections” there can be in such a system, especially during the “special military operation”. Since 1996, voting in Russia has taken place with mass-scale fraud and in completely unequal conditions of struggle. Then why participate in this? In order to convey to people a position that is fundamentally different from that of the authorities and their servants – a position based on values. To give people a chance to hear another point of view and support it if they wish to. Participation in such elections is not a struggle for power (as it should be under other circumstances). In our conditions, this is a direct form of conversation with people about the most important things that determine not only today, but also the future. This is a way to attract people’s attention to politics, an attempt to form a society that does not exist yet. It is impossible to achieve a ceasefire without this, it is impossible to begin any transformations in the country without this. Elections, whatever they may be, still provide an opportunity to appeal to people. There are no other ways left in Russia except the Internet, with all its specifics.

Therefore, unprincipled calls to vote for “anyone other than [the ruling party]”, for those who unanimously support the special military operation in the State Duma, are either stupidity, or corruption, or an attempt to climb into power as part of maintaining the current mafia-authoritarian system.

Yabloko campaign posters “Yabloko. Your vote For Peace and Freedom!” in Yekaterinburg / Photo by the Yabloko Press Office

In the September 2023 elections, the Yabloko party was the only political organisation campaigning for peace and freedom. Yabloko’s 164 candidates ran in the municipal and the by-elections to the State Duma in 13 regions of Russia. No one else in our country dared conduct election campaigns calling for peace and freedom. In conditions of total state censorship and repressions that are gaining momentum every day, when dozens of thousands are sent to the frontline, many of whom return in coffins, – it does worth a lot to reach out to people and tell them that without peace and freedom there is no future, that it is necessary to achieve a ceasefire, that there is nothing more important than saving human lives. All candidates nominated from the Yabloko party personally signed a corresponding memorandum, which fixed their absolute agreement with this stance and the obligation to conduct a political campaign which would be absolutely consistent with these principles.

According to the latest data, in the elections of 10 September, 2023, the Yabloko party received about 9.2% of the votes in Yekaterinburg and 7.3% in Veliky Novgorod and will be represented in local city dumas. Yabloko candidates in the Perm Territory and the Tula Region also won mandates to local councils. There are no illusions about the possibilities for political work in modern Russian legislatures. But this is the only and still legal opportunity to conduct a public political discussion with people about peace and freedom.

In the 2021 State Duma elections, the Yabloko party called for voting against the military operation planned against Ukraine. But a crowd of self-confident, stupid campaigners for “smart voting” [calling to vote for any party but the ruling United Russia, despite the fact that they all supported the special military operation] did not allow people to hear us, and the technologies they implanted brought communists and nationalists to the State Duma, as well as the “new people” who did not differ much from them and who, in alliance with the [ruling] United Russia party, unanimously supported Putin and the special military operation. Therefore, one need to vote only according to one’s conscience. A different choice leads to disgusting consequences. We are doing and will continue to do everything that depends on us so that the call “for peace and freedom” becomes the aspiration of the entire Russian society. The alternative to this choice is killing of people and loss of the future. That’s what this election was about.