Friday was the last day of campaigning before Russians vote for a new Duma parliament on Sunday. The Communist Party, led by Gennady Zuganov, was out in force. The Communists won 12.6 percent of the vote last time around, but like other parties they say this time the Kremlin has made it hard for their voice to be heard.
Vladimir Zhirinovski’s Liberal Democrat Party took 11.3 percent in 2003 on a nationalist manifesto. At a final rally, Zhirinovski promised to raise salaries and living standards.
Like all the others parties, the Liberal Democrats need to secure at least seven percent of the vote on Sunday to get into the Duma after the Kremlin raised the threshold from five percent.
In the last elections, liberal leftists in Yabloko did not even attain the required five percent.
The Kremlin says the change was intended to prevent a fractured opposition made up of so many parties it had no voice. Critics say it destroys the hopes of minor parties and independents.
Some rights activists believe it is all irrelevant anyway. They say a system is already in place to ensure that President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party enjoys a landslide – allegations the Kremlin denies.