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Grigory Pasko: Better Not to Observe an Election Like This

Why there wasn’t much democracy to observe during Russia’s elections Grigory Pasko, journalist As is known, many have refused to participate in the observer process for the Russian elections: the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE, the Nordic Council, observers from the USA and certain countries of Europe… Limited observers did decide to come from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), as well as delegations from the parliamentary assembly of the CIS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Out of the 30-member OSCE delegation, two observers were sent to the elections in Yaroslavl. Commenting on the results of the elections that had taken place in this city, one of them – Polish Member Tadeusz Iwinski, in part, noted such shortcomings at the elections: inconvenient urns [ballot boxes—Trans.] for voting and narrow slots in them. Imagine – you can’t even stuff four ballots at a time in one… yrna030608 The funeral of democracy? Ballot boxes are called “urns” in Russia (photo by Grigory Pasko)

The head of the PACE delegation to observe the elections in the RF, Andreas Gross, doing some preliminary summing up of the Russian elections, noted that they “reflect the will of the voters, the democratic potential of whom, unfortunately, was not fully realized”. Such a suspiciously brief characterization of the elections that had taken place led the Russian opposition to the thought that “the Russian authorities had ‘done some work’ with the observers”.Be that as it may, but the commentary of the foreign observers could indeed have been somewhat more substantive. No doubt they had come not only to note the narrow slots in the voting urns. I don’t know what precincts Mr. Iwinski visited, but if I saw the organized carting in of students at precinct No. 131, then, he too could have seen this – had he wanted to.andreasgross.jpgNo doubt Gross’s over-cautiousness also does not speak to the fullness of the carrying out of observer functions – he completely refused to even speak about the legitimacy of the elected president, only alluding that this term requires special interpretation. The head of the PACE delegation himself explained the “cautious choice of words” by saying that the observers “modestly assess their capabilities.”Involuntarily a question suggests itself: if you have such admittedly “modest capabilities”, then why did you bother to come in the first place? You would have done better to just stay home. Otherwise, you just cast doubt on the sincerity and professionalism of the parliamentarians who did come.kosachev030608So it turns out that certain Russian political scientists, in particular the chairman of the committee of the State Duma for international affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, really had nothing to fear from international institutions declaring the elections illegitimate. (Photo: Konstantin Kosachev, Chairman of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs)Because they won’t. As long as they keep on nearsightedly poking their noses into the narrow slots of the voting urns and not noticing the macro-shortcomings of the Russian pseudo-elections, all the Putins, Medvedevs, and Kosachevs can sleep soundly.