Избирательные комиссии в механизме защиты политической конкуренции в Российской Федерации
The paper analyzes the status of election commissions as safeguards of ensuring and protecting political competition in the Russian Federation. Political competition is considered in the context of elections as a mechanism for implementing constitutional principles of alternation of power and ensuring political rights of participants in electoral relations. The paper describes a specific place of election commissions (primarily, the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation — CEC) in the political system, which determines their potential in protecting political competition. The key characteristics of election commissions due to which they can protect political competition involve their remoteness from the political market, lack of interest in the results of competition, and impartiality and independence in making decisions involving public power. The leading role of the CEC of the Russian Federation in protection of political competition is determined taking into account its status as the agency heading the system of election commissions in Russia, as well as taking into account the fixed scope of powers in relation to participants of the electoral process. The author determines some problems limiting the potential of election commissions in protecting political competition. These include, in particular, issues of election commissions formation, problems of ensuring their independence, insufficient powers to regulate electoral relations, etc. It is concluded that it is impossible to increase transparency and competitiveness of the political system without comprehensive institutionalization of election commissions at all levels of public authority. This implies expanding capabilities of election commissions to regulate the political market and implementation of guarantees of their independence. At the same time, it is noted that protection of political competition, despite a significant role of election commissions in political competition, cannot be reduced exclusively to their activities, since it also requires an adequate level of judicial protection of political rights and strengthening public control over electoral procedures.