In late September, the Russian government launched a new propaganda campaign to convince young people that elections under Russian President Vladimir Putin would be the most honest, free and fair in the world, officials have told The Moscow Times.

In a move ostensibly to mark the 30th anniversary of the creation of Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC), schools across the Russian Federation were provided with a series of lesson plans to be delivered to pupils on the country’s electoral process.

Lesson packs included a pre-recorded video address by CEC chief Ella Pamfilova, who said that Russia’s elections are among “the most progressive” and that voting is a meaningful event for every Russian citizen.

Screenshot from Ella Pamfilova’s video address to schools

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The CEC website claimed in teacher guidelines accompanying the lesson plans that “the point of the lessons is to foster a sense of responsibility and pride for one's country… by educating citizens who are responsible for the future of [their] family and [their] country.”

This latest effort to steer the minds of young Russians follows hot on the heels of the Ministry of Education’s August unveiling of a new history textbook. The book includes sections on Putin’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine and toes the presidential line that Moscow’s full-scale invasion was necessary to liberate the country from “a Nazi regime.”

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The textbooks came with a promise from Russia’s Education Minister, Sergey Kravtsov, that they would be updated “as soon as we win,” according to Russian news site RIA Novosti.

It’s a Family Thing

It is common knowledge how Putin plays on Russian’s love of the family, which was central to his strategy to encourage the nation to maintain traditional values as part of the anti-Western narratives set out in his December 2022 decree.

As the 2024 presidential elections loom large, for which Putin is expected to announce he will stand for a fifth term, a report by independent Russian outlet Meduza on Oct. 25 describes the Kremlin’s unveiling of another strategy to further reinforce Putin’s approval rating among Russian families.

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A new nationwide lottery – It’s a Family Thing – first revealed in early October is, according to Meduza’s multiple high-ranking sources, a “background project” to Russia’s presidential race.

The Oct. 3 announcement of the lottery at the “Russia is a land of opportunity” exhibition. Photo source: It’s a Family Thing

An unnamed Kremlin political strategist said: “It’s essentially an indirect campaign and propaganda to fill the information space… to lead people to the right choice [of voting for Putin].

“Such background projects help expand social optimism,” the strategist added, explaining that It’s a Family Thing aims to show Russia is moving “in the right direction” despite the economic strains placed on the country by the war in Ukraine and Western sanctions.

The organizing committee for It’s a Family Thing is headed by the Kremlin’s Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS), Sergei Kiriyenko, and the event is understood to be directly organized by the Kremlin’s Head of Public Projects, Sergei Novikov.

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While no one in authority will formally declare that the lottery has anything to do with the election, a review of plans for the It’s a Family Thing competition show that events coincide with some of the probable key dates for Putin’s campaign.

For instance, the launch date for the lottery is expected to be Nov. 4 which is also the opening day of a forum designed to showcase Russia's achievements under Putin’s rule.

The lottery is not a simple raffle, contestants will be expected to perform a series of online tasks which will include cooking, singing, “acts of kindness” and “creating a virtual chronicle of their family.”

Prizes include 30 x RUB 5 million ($53,500) housing certificates, 300 x trips across Russia and other prizes.

Organizers say that 400,000 people and 70,000 families have so far registered to compete, with the aim of reaching half a million at the Nov. 4 registration deadline.

Meduza adds that news outlets and regional officials have been asked to promote the event, with local officials being informed that the contest is “connected to the elections.”

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Other Meduza reports claimed at the end of 2022 that Kiriyenko, the Kremlin DCOS, said they have to achieve a “record result” for the president for which a source who works in one of Russia’s Northwestern Federal Districts said “The task is simple: get 80 percent or more in the presidential elections.”

The lottery scheme fits in with claims made in July that the presidential administration will turn the election campaign into a “series of holidays,” because another Meduza source says Kiriyenko “loves public displays of developed socialism” and “loves what is Soviet.”

In a conversation with the Meduza source, a member of Kiriyenko’s technical staff said that, in spite of such preparations, it will not be easy for the Kremlin’s political staff to secure the required number of votes because of the war.

He said: “I don’t envy them; everything can change quickly. You sit and plot and plan and then - bam! A month before the election, drones or a large bomb hit the Crimean Bridge – and the whole campaign is f**ked.”

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