TV News in Russia – Elections and Religion – September, 2018

According to a 2016 poll by the independent Levada Center, 80% of Russians view television as their primary source of news. The same Levada poll, however, shows that only 41% trust the news as an objective source of information. The broadcasts sampled here are from Russia’s most-watched channels: First Channel and Russia Channel from the Sunday news reports.

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Central Election Commission: The Interim Regional Heads Appointed by Putin Have Confident Electoral Lead

First Channel states that “almost all the candidates from the United Russia party, who were appointed by Vladimir Putin as interim governors, gained the majority of votes in the elections. This “demonstrates the population’s support for the president’s personnel policies.” Only in two regions – Khabarovsk and Primorie – will a second round of elections take place as none of the candidates gained an absolute majority of votes. First Channel quotes Central Election Committee Chairwoman Ella Pamfilova as calling the current elections “the calmest elections in Russia’s entire electoral history.”


On the Unified Day of Voting, Russians Elected Governors, Mayors, Deputies of Regional Legislatures

First Channel reports that elections took place in 80 Russian regions and voters elected governors, mayors, and deputies. The new governor of Yamalo-Nenetsk Autonomous Region, Dmitry Artyukhov, became the youngest elected governor, at just 30 years old. At some polling stations, especially in Moscow, concerts and contests for children were organized. In the Moscow Region, special polling stations were organized for Muscovites who spend weekends at dachas outside Moscow. President Putin voted, as always, at the Academy of Science building.


Elections in Russia: First Results

Russia Channel reports that on September 9, governor elections took place in 26 regions of Russia, with 7 incumbent governors running in 7 regions, and new candidates, recently appointed by the President as interim governors to replace dismissed or promoted governors, will be running in the other 19 regions. The channel states that almost one-fourth of all governorships will now be staffed by new people, indicating that the President is responding to calls by society to rotate those in power. Russia Channel reports that most candidates “are young, but already experienced managers, who have proven themselves well in managerial positions.” During the two recent months, President Putin met in person with each of the candidates he had appointed as interim governor, “and discussed current events.”.


Outcome of Second Round of Governor Election in Primorie Region

First Channel reports that in the second tour of the governor election in Primorie Region, incumbent interim governor Andrei Tarasenko and Communist Andrei Ichshenko are competing for the post of governor. According to the preliminary data, Ichshenko is the leading, with over 50 percent of the votes, while Tarasenko has about 47 percent of the votes.


Big Political Sunday – Today is the Second Round of Voting for Governor Elections in the Khabarovsk and Vladimir Regions

First Channel gave a rather dramatic report about “political intrigues and tricks.” The report briefly mentioned that in Vladimir region, incumbent governor Svetlana Orlova, candidate from United Russia, competed with candidate from LDPR party Vladimir Sipyagin, without giving preliminary results or additional information (Orlova lost by a fairly wide margin). The main focus of the report was Khabarovsk, Khakassia, and Primorie.

In Khakassia republic, at 11:30 pm (30 minutes before the deadline), incumbent governor Victor Zimin withdrew from the race. He had been governor for years, but lost the first election tour to young politician Valentin Konovalov from the Communist Party. The report showed an extended clip of him explaining his decision which boiled down to that he “didn’t want to allow a split in the region.” Konovalov will now have to compete with Just Russia candidate Andrei Filyagin, who had come in third place in the first round of voting.

The major focus of the report, however, was the Primorie Region, where the elections were recognized invalid, because of “gross violations of both the parties.” The report covered the blatant last-minute changing of the election results by the incumbent governor, Andrei Tarasenko, who used emergency crews to close polling stations and change the results. The report even included YouTube clips of people reporting their disgust of Tarasenko, who, it was reported, has now withdrawn entirely from the race. Russia’s Central Election Commission has annulled the voting, also citing alleged vote buying by the Communist candidate who would have won the second tour, and bringing in a political scientist to discuss the Communist candidate’s failed business projects and their effect on the local populace. With the annulment of the elections, a totally new election will be held. The report did not mention (as it had not yet happened) that United Russia will be fielding a new candidate in that election.

In the Khabarovsk Region, the candidate from LDPR, Sergey Furgal gained almost 70 percent of the votes, while incumbent governor Vyacheslav Shport gained about 28 percent of the votes. The report also mentioned voting irregularities for this region, namely that Furgal still had an electronic billboard up and “cars with posters” on the streets during the “silent day” before the election when no campaigning should take place. Voter turnout, the report stated, was extremely high for the region – 43 percent.


President Set Tasks to Governors Who Won at Elections on Single Day of Voting

First Channel reports that the President met with the candidates who won at the current governor elections and set the two main tasks for them: grow people’s incomes and increase people’s life expectancy.


Governor Elections: Central Election Commission Sees Everything

Russia Channel reports that the Central Election Commission closely monitored the violations at the governor elections, and this resulted in the annulment of the results for the vote held in the Primorie Region. During the election, about 200 complaints were received, including complaints about bribing voters, running campaigns in unscrupulous ways, and others. Incumbent interim governor Andrei Tarasenko, who was one of the two leading candidates at the cancelled election, does not intend to run at the new election, which is to be scheduled soon. The other candidate, Communist Andrei Ishchenko, hopes to run again if his party supports him. Russia Channel predicts “energetic race” in Khakasia Republic, where the incumbent governor withdrew from the upcoming second round, explaining that he did so, “in order to prevent a split in Khakasia,” The second tour will now fall to the second and third place candidates from the first tour – candidates from the Communists and from the Just Russia Party. Russia Channel states that the new level of scrutiny of the Central Election Commission made the current elections “the very measure of honesty and transparency.”


New Heads Started Working in Three Russian Regions

First Channel reports that in three Russian regions, new governors took offices, representing “the new generation of politicians.” These include interim governor of Primorie Region Oleg Kozhemyako, who asked President Putin’s permission to run in the new elections to be held in the Primorie Region after the former elections were annulled. Kozhemyako was, at the time, Governor of the Sakhalin Region. He resigned from that post and has been appointed interim governor for Primorie. They also include Gleb Nikitin, who had been appointed interim governor of Nizhny Novgorod region and then won the current election) and Vera Scherbina, who is the new interim governor for Sakhalin following Kozhemyako’s departure. Political experts said in a First Channel interview that the new governors were selected on the basis of experience and ability to govern a region. First Channel reports that 16 out of 20 governors who won the elections, are in United Russia party. Most newly elected deputies in the regions also belong to United Russia.


Russian Orthodox Church Tries to Prevent Ecumenical Split

Russia Channel reports that the Russian Orthodox Church used harsh terms in its comments of the decision of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartolomew I of Constantinople to grant the Ukrainian Orthodox Church the status of an autocephalous church. Russia Channel called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church “schismatic” and its head, Patriarch Filaret, an “impostor.” Russia Channel commentators said that granting autocephaly will inevitably result in “more bloodshed in Ukraine,” with real battles for control over churches and monasteries. Russia Channel called the decision of Patriarch Bartolomew I was “heresy” and an “abuse of power.”

Russia Channel states that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchy is already a truly autonomous church. It has more than 12 parishes and more than 200 monasteries, including three lavras. Meanwhile the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchy, which made an unauthorized split from the Moscow Patriarchy in 1992, has no lavras, and has a much smaller number of monasteries and parishes. It is, however, the church favored by Ukrainian politicians now in power. Russian Orthodox Church leaders compare the current events in church life of Ukraine with The Great Schism of 1054 when Christians split into Catholics and the Orthodox.


Church Intrigues, Termination of Agreement on Friendship with Russia – How Else is Petro Poroshenko Trying to Gain Points for Election?

First Channel states that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is “playing the anti-Russian card again” at the start of the election campaign in Ukraine: he terminated the agreement on friendship between Russia and Ukraine (signed by President Yeltsin and President Kuchma in 1997), and has encouraged and supported the growing split between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church.

About the Author

Alex Sitnikov

Alex holds a BA in Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language (RFL) and is currently on his way to get an MA in Translation. He came to Moscow from Tolyatti to study at Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2013 and has been in love with the city ever since. In March 2018 Alex joined SRAS to help coordinate student activities in Moscow. When he’s not occupied with that, Alex likes to play guitar and read.