United Russia, Putin's party, would win the legislative elections with about 45% of the favors.
This is according to the exit polls. In second place the Communist Party, with 21%. Following the Liberal-Democratic Party and finally Just Russia. But more than the final result, never really in doubt, it is the nuances that count in today's Russia. Because one thing is the national plank, where the parties are voted and 225 seats 'worth', another the majority share (the remaining 225). Together they make up the 450 deputies of the Duma, the lower house of Parliament. And it will be interesting to see who in the single-member colleges will be able to win, if among them there are 'uncomfortable' names or harmless figures. This is where we will see if Alexei Navalny's smart vote has had an impact.
"Go and vote, do not be lazy", the opponent urged from prison. The fear, however, is that laziness matters little. Complaints of fraud have multiplied throughout the country, complete with online videos showing all the tricks used to fill the ballot boxes with votes (for United Russia). For the authorities they are 'fake' and the Central Electoral Commission spoke of 12 irregularities in eight regions. Nothing. The NGO Golos, which monitors the correct conduct of the electoral process, has instead traced thousands of infringements. But Golos was branded as a 'foreign' agent and accused of wanting to discredit the elections. It is no coincidence that the people in the polling stations are pessimistic.
"Nothing will change." Alexei is 28 years old and a chauffeur. He voted "against United Russia". But who exactly? "I don't remember it anymore," he replies laconically as a chill wind sweeps the sidewalk where seat 2825 is located. "Most people I know have been forced to vote by their employers," he adds scornfully. Ivan works in a shop instead and is 40 years old. Whoever has marked on the card does not say it. But if you ask him what the country's main problem is, he answers "United Russia". Which already gives an idea. Oleg, a 37-year-old employed in logistics, chose "the Greens" instead. "A neutral vote," he concedes with a smile. The big absentee seems to be Navalny's 'Smart Vote',against which the Kremlin has deployed all its firepower. "I know him but I have not heard of this", confides Oleg.
Everyone, more or less, says so. Maybe it's a way to protect yourself.
The air is bad in Russia and the police at the polling stations don't like journalists asking questions. They ask for phantom "permissions" - which officially are not needed - and people run away.
In Moscow, the stops were triggered against those who dared to take to the streets with even just a sign in their hand (it happened in Pushkin Square). Perhaps it explains why online voting, in the regions where it was admitted, has depopulated: in Moscow over 2 million people have registered and there the turnout exceeds 96% (the general national one is instead around 45%). But the question of regularity remains. Putin's critics argue that digital voting is just one more means to be able to 'fake' the result. Yulia Navalnaya, Alexei's wife, went there in person to vote and, on Instagram, she encouraged her compatriots to do the same. "Every ballot counts, do not believe those who tell you that it is useless ... it does, however. And vote wisely".
Here, whether the Smart Vote has had an impact or not will be better understood in the coming days: about 69% of Navalny's indications are for the benefit of the Communist Party. Its unfailing leader, Gennady Zyganov, went so far as to say that the "smartest" vote is therefore for his party. What is certain is that the operation was hit by the digital censorship of Big Tech, which eventually capitulated to pressure and removed apps and links published by Navalny. Google, Apple, even the libertarian Telegram have bowed their heads - only Twitter seems to have kept their backs straight.