Is it “payback time” for regions that didn’t support United Russia?

Russian prosecutors are on the prowl for leaflets which claim that the Kremlin is punishing the residents of regions where vote totals for United Russia were low this past December and March. One might wonder if it is payback time, but don’t do so too loudly because the government says that the leaflets detailing examples of “payback” for those failing to vote for the majority party are “extremist” and those caught posting one online or distributing them in public could face prison time under the just signed new law on extremism.

One leaflet in circulation across Russia compares utility rates for regions that supported Mr. Putin’s party as opposed to those that didn’t and the facts don’t seem to paint a very rosy picture. For example, the region of Vologda managed just a 33% vote for United Russia. Does that matter today to Vologda families? Are residents of Vologda being punished for their failure to vote for Mr. Putin and the United Russia party?

Well, apparently a resident of the Vologda region pays 1228 rubles per Gigacalorie (Gcal) for heat but over in Ingushetia where the vote for United Russia was much higher, the Gcal rate is just 905 rubles. What about another basic utility, like water? Dagestan households, with a high vote for United Russia, receive water at 7.30 rubles per cubic meter while Vologda homes are charged 21 rubles per cubic meter for water, almost 3 times the rate for Dagestan.

The pamphlet appears to make a good case but one must also take into consideration the delivery of utilities and cost of production in each region. Even so, the disparities in prices are cause for concern. Just don’t get caught with one of the leaflets in your possession or post one online, else you may find yourself sitting next to someone famous–like Mikhail Khordorksky.