In an odd piece of news, Marina Smirnova, a candidate for the A Just Russia party, has been barred from standing as a candidate in this year’s Russian Duma elections. The story is notable because Smirnova is the daughter in law of Igor Smirnov, the leader of Transnistria (the breakaway Moldovan republic that has, for a long time, been backed by Moscow).
According to RIA Novosti, the Russian Supreme Court’s decision came after the Central Election Commission appealed to it on the the grounds that Smirnova was a citizen of three countries – Russia, Ukraine and Moldova – and election rules stipulate that Duma candidates can only be citizens of a single country – Russia.
I’m really not sure what to make of this story – does it mean, for example, that:
- The crude way in which opposition parties are repressed (A Just Russia have already complained that the court’s decision is politically motivated – a claim which echoes the treatment in Georgia of an opposition Presidential candidate)
- Relations between Russia and Transnistria are souring, and this is in fact a coded message to the Transnistrian leader to shape up
- Russian elections are un-democratic because the rules bar many Russian citizens from standing for election
- The Russian Supreme Court’s decisions strictly follow the law and there is nothing unusual at all about this case
Personally, I think it’s likely that Simonova simply broke the electoral rules (probably inadvertently), but I thought the list above might prove a useful example of how it’s possible to spin a single story about Russia in multiple ways.