The deputies of Gus-Khrustalny City Council voted at the meeting on October 21 for submitting the question about abolition of direct popular election of the city mayor for public hearings. If the local residents do not oppose such an initiative, the mayor will be appointed by the deputies of the City Council on a contest, the criteria of which will also be developed by the people’s elected representatives. Hearings will be held on November 25 at 14:00.
Gus-Hrustalny, together with Murom and Sobinka are the last cities in Vladimir region where the mayor can be chosen by citizens. In Vladimir, the current head Andrei Shokhin promised to bring back direct mayoral elections, but after his reappointment by the loyal City Council, he did not mention it again. If the decision to end direct elections in Gus-Khrustalny succeeds in being implemented, the new head will be appointed rather than elected as early as 2022.
On October 21 voices of Gusev deputies on “an elective” question were distributed as follows: 13 people spoke for, and only two against. Such unity of people elected during discussion of the disputable initiative allows assuming that deputies will elect the new head without special disagreements.
One of those who spoke against the abolition of elections was Viktor Shokhrin, a self-nominated former deputy of the regional parliament. He said that the abolition of direct elections was tantamount to depriving people of their freedom.
“This decision can’t be taken, because it will be impossible to wash away this shame,” “Chesnok” newspaper quoted the deputy.
The regional leadership of the LDPR party also spoke out against the abolition of direct elections, calling what is happening “an attack on the principles of democracy.” According to a party poll, 90% of Muscovites support retaining the election.
It should be noted that cases where an extremely unpopular decision suddenly turns out to be adopted at a public hearing are by no means uncommon in contemporary Russian practice. Interested parties can mobilize supporters to participate in such hearings. Supporters can come well in advance of the beginning of the event, and then the organizers can close the doors for the rest of those who want to attend, citing an unfavorable epidemiological situation. It is to be hoped that such electoral practices will not materialize on November 25.
The current attempt to cancel the elections is not the first on the account of the local Council of People’s Deputies. In spring 2021 this initiative was already brought up for discussion, but taking into account the protest moods and the forthcoming Duma campaign, the process was suspended till the end of the elections. Supporters of the abolition of the elections argued their position by the desire to save money on the organization of the election campaign.
Gus-Khrustalny is one of the most disadvantaged towns in terms of the standard of living of its citizens.
Sociologists describe it as “depressive”. Local residents are increasingly leaving to earn money in other localities, not finding suitable employment for themselves in their native place. The withdrawal of citizens from influencing political decisions will increase social apathy. Such a change can lead not only to the political degradation of the territory, but also to negative economic consequences.