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Dirty Elections Start Early

St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko is doing her part to ensure that anxiety about election violations starts early this year, after it emerged yesterday that her registration for the August 21st municipal elections was the only one permitted, as the deadline came just before information about the elections was made public.  The Moscow Times reported that ‘[e[ven the head of the St. Petersburg election committee said he only learned about Matviyenko’s candidacy from media reports.

In other words, opposition candidates have effectively been barred from running against Matviyenko, ensuring her victory.  A Just Russia are claiming that her candidacy is illegal, due the secrecy involved, and Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin has complained to President Dmitry Medvedev about this ‘derision of law’.  But the fact is that Matviyenko needs to win this one precisely because Medvedev wants her to become Federation Council speaker, a role she cannot step into without winning an election to a local legislature.  Matviyenko is a hugely unpopular candidate in her hometown, so it seems fairly reasonable to assume that, without the help of dirty tricks, she would not fairly have won either election.

No wonder Vladimir Putin said he’d need a good wash after the December elections, says Nikolai Petrov today, looking at the prospects for the cleanliness of the end of year polls.  The forecast don’t look good:

Putin has retained the most odious election officials in his power vertical, those associated with numerous scandals and violations. Most prominent among them are Vladimir Churov, head of the Central Elections Commission since 2007, and Valentina Gorbunova, who has headed the Moscow city election committee since 1994. Gorbunova was responsible for the scandalous results of the 2009 elections that prompted representatives of every minority Duma party to protest electoral falsifications.