Sex and guns: Pre-election campaigning Russian style

RT reviewed the brightest controversies that have marked Russia’s 2011 parliamentary election.

Politics can be heated, but this election campaign has been getting people really hot under the collar.

Aimed at giving the party a boost among young voters, last month one United Russia MP uploaded a raunchy advertisement. Called “Let’s do it together,” it showed voters being rewarded in some untoward ways for their party choices.

The video portrays a boy and a girl flirting with each other at a ballot station and then shutting themselves inside a voting booth. After some time, the young “voters” leave, stroking their hair and clothes.

“Of course, we do not try to promote breaking the rules,” United Russia member Dmitry Polikanov told RT. “The idea was simply to give the trend. The election campaign should be touching the hearts of young voters.”

The aggressive campaign left opposition party Fair Russia red-faced, and lodging a complaint to the electoral commission – but no action was taken.

The ruling force has also come under fire for its choice of billboards, which look markedly similar to those of the electoral commission. That also went unpunished.

“They’re camouflaging this action as if the Moscow City Election Commission was unaware of the same posters,” Andrey Buzin, from the Association in Defense of Voters Rights, told RT. “We’re all aware however that both the commission and one of the candidates have been using the same advertisement company for over the past ten years.”

­Smoking guns of electioneering

So far the only faction to be officially reprimanded for stepping out of line has been Fair Russia. Chastised for their use of a TV campaign attacking United Russia’s pension policies, it was described as promoting social strife and taken down.

“The ban was unlawful,” political analyst Mikhail Vinogradov told RT. “It was based on a decision by Central Election Commission chairman Vladimir Churov. This is against the regulations, according to which the video should have undergone expert evaluation first. They chose to be driven by politics rather than by the law.”

The Communist Party also shot itself in the foot, initially proclaiming that adorned national hero Mikhail Kalashnikov endorsed them as a party. The gun designer fired back, saying that he had never said such a thing.

It is not just the legality of advertisements that has courted controversy. The Liberal Democrats, led by the vocal Vladimir Zhirinovsky, have been playing the race card this election season, prompting debate on the so-called Russian question. If they came to power they would ban the teaching of other languages in Russian schools.

Their policies have a much further reach, with plans to do away with autonomous territories and rename them according to ethnic Russian lines. Unsavory for some, these views have successfully toyed with strong undercurrents of nationalism, but crucially have not broken any rules.

In fact, according to the electoral commission, this campaign season has seen very few stray outside the boundaries of legality, but that can still change over the last few days.

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