Emails (excerpted), Graeme Robertson, associate professor of Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Aug. 22 and 25, 2014

11:26 p.m.

It depends on what he means by more diversity. At the level of the national parliament (the State Duma), there are 4 parties represented - the largest party United Russia has 238/450 seats, then the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party (which is neither liberal nor democratic) and the Fair Russia Party. So in one sense, the number of parties, he is right. But all of the parties represented are more or less acceptable to the regime and really critical opposition groups are not allowed to contest the elections, so diversity is in fact much more limited than it appears.

At the state level the same 4 parties and one or two others are represented but United Russia holds a majority in all states (all 83). So again, not much diversity there.

...

Graeme Robertson.

On 8/25/2014 10:40 AM, Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin) wrote:

How did you arrive at these figures, from what source or sources? Do you recommend a particular recent analysis of the issue? What else would you think we should consider?

12:38 p.m.

Aug. 25, 2014

The basic data are available from lots of places, but this is the best one in English:

http://www.russiavotes.org/duma/duma_today.php

The broader question of how real the parties actually are and how independent is a more general sense that I have from working in this area for the last 20 years -- but I should say that it is a pretty unanimous opinion in the west.

...Moreover, since 2012 the Duma has become even more of a rubber-stamp than it was before … This is the sort of thing that is so widely accepted among observers that few people would go to the bother of actually writing it up.

G.