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Russian Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Ephemera: a finding aid

This guide describes a collection of ephemera available in the European Reading Room related to the Russian parliamentary and presidential elections held in 2011 and 2012.


This collection of 216 miscellaneous items contains ballots, books, booklets, brochures, cards, flyers, leaflets, letters, ribbons, posters, stickers, and a small number of assorted items collected during the Parliamentary elections campaign of December 4, 2011, the protests that immediately followed the elections, and the presidential elections of March 4, 2012. The materials feature political programs, party logos, slogans, and counterpropaganda. Items were collected primarily in Moscow and St. Petersburg; occasional items were collected in other regions (Siberia, Far East).

The materials are interesting from a lexicographic standpoint as the wording of many texts is a colorful representation of Russian proverbs, set phrases, and their creative adaptation to fulfill the needs of the moment.

Historical Note

The State Duma was established in its current form in 1993 as the lower house of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation (Russian national parliament). The elections of December 4, 2011 were the sixth Russian parliamentary elections since then. Of the seven registered political parties that competed for 450 seats to serve for 5-year terms for the first time (previously they were 4-year terms), only four parties already represented in the previous Duma were able to overcome the 7% threshold; three opposition parties were not. The results of the elections did not change the political make-up of the Duma, though there was a major loss of seats on the part of the United Russia party (from 315 seats in the previous elections of 2007 to 238 seats in the current Duma). The results of the sixth parliamentary elections were largely criticized as fraudulent by independent Russian and international observers alike, as well as by contender parties that lost elections. Scores of complaints were expressed about ballot box stuffing, abuse of state resources in favor of certain parties, state-controlled media bias, and the performance of the Central Election Commission of Russia led by Vladimir Evgen'evich Churov. The suspected election fraud led to major street protests, primarily in Moscow and St. Petersburg. For the first time, protests were coordinated largely through social media. Over time, demonstrations progressed from protests against the results of the Duma elections to protests against the results of the presidential election.

The presidential election of March 4, 2012 was the sixth presidential election since 1991 and the first for the extended term of six years (previously it was a 4-year term). Five registered candidates - three from political parties, one independent (M. Prokhorov) and one nonpartisan nominated by the United Russia party (V. Putin) - were competing in the elections. Eleven more candidates, including Grigorii Iavlinskii from Iabloko party, were denied participation by the Central Elections Committee for various reasons.

Organization of the Collection

Items are combined in two series: parliamentary elections (Series 1) and presidential elections (Series 2). Series 1 materials (8 folders) are arranged alphabetically by party name according to transliterated spelling and then by the purpose of the material. Series 2 materials (9 folders) are arranged alphabetically by candidate's last name and then by the purpose of the material.

Note on access: As the collection is in the process of being cataloged, it is recommended to request the use of the collection in advance in order to allow time for the retrieval of materials. A request can be made using the AskALibrarian feature located on the top left-hand side of this guide.

Additional Resources