The narrative in the Guardian about Russia and democracy is that there isn’t any. Putin fixes the elections and it is in effect a ‘regime’ or even dictatorship.
So the journalist writing this story about election sabotage in St. Petersburg has a problem. The story is that in a bid to sabotage a liberal party (‘Apple’) candidate in municipal elections two rival candidates have registered with the same name.
The Guardian writes: “‘Double’ candidates regularly pop up during Russia’s election cycles, which can be surprisingly cut-throat despite the expectation that the ruling United Russia party will maintain a majority in the Duma”
Here the journalist is fighting against his own narrative. On the one hand if the elections are always rigged in favour of United Russia so that they are a foregone conclusion why would it be necessary to resort to such tricks and foul-play? He tries to balance the two narratives: ” surprisingly cut-throat”. His problem of course is that if they are “cut-throat” then the results can’t be a foregone conclusion. (A small point; the elections in question are municipal elections – not State Duma elections; maybe these former are more ‘cut-throat’).
On this particular story as is usual in stories about Russia written by their staff based in Moscow the journalist has not attempted to ‘balance’ the story by obtaining a quote from the authorities – something which they almost invariably do on stories critical of the UK government. Had he obtained that quote he could have noted that the Central Election Commission in Russia has said that after the elections they will try to get legislation passed to prevent this happening again.  One can of course take this statement with a pinch of salt. On the other hand UK officials will often make promises in the heat of the media moment which are subsequently quietly dropped. There is no real journalistic reason to not include the ‘balancing’ quote from the relevant authorities. I don’t know why Guardian journalists suspend their normal rules on how to construct articles when it comes to Russia. Possibly because they know that their job is to write regime change propaganda.