There’s an interesting new analytical piece from Robert Coalson at RFE/RL which takes a look at the use of administrative resources to support the presidential campaign of Dmitri Medvedev. The Deputy Prime Minister, whom a new poll declares has already been accepted by Russians as the next president, recently made a series of visits out in the regions (Murmansk and Kaliningrad) not to give stump speeches to win over voters, but rather to establish working relationships with the Kremlin appointed governors who operate the local political machinery, argues Coalson. He writes:
The yoking of the country’s administrative resources to the goals of Unified Russia proved powerfully effective in December. In Ingushetia, for instance, the local administration claimed that 98.35 percent of voters turned out in December, and 98.72 percent of them voted for Unified Russia. In the face of these unrealistic figures, local activists began collecting statements from voters who swore that they did not go to the polls at all. Last week, the movement announced it had collected such statements from more than 87,000 voters, about 54 percent of the republic’s entire electorate. The activists have said that if prosecutors refuse to investigate, they will take their complaint to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.