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Voting Rights (and Wrongs)

Outcry over the election results continues.  Sergei Mitrokhin, chairman of the Yabloko party, has an impassioned piece in the Moscow Times regarding the alleged vote-rigging in the October 11 election.  Numerous practices to impede opposition candidates were highlighted both in the run up to and following the elections, and Mitrokhin gives a full overview of these hurdles.  He refers to a number of techniques: the ‘carousel system’,  the ‘dead souls’ who boost the number of United Russia supporters, the ‘house calls’ made by social workers to ‘help’ the elderly to vote, votes which then may be ‘corrected’.  It seems as if an entire vocabulary of pseudos and ‘so-calleds’ has developed to describe this ersatz polling procedure.  None of which are doing much to promote the notion of Russian ‘democracy’.  From the Moscow Times:

One exception to the falsification was the polling station where Prime Minister Vladimir Putin voted. Here, a command was apparently handed down not to falsify in a district directly associated with Putin. As a result, Yabloko garnered 18 percent of the vote there.

You might ask why the current authoritarian regime resorted to bringing in busloads of voters to stuff ballot boxes. The answer is that the authorities want very much to look like it is a democracy to the outside world. The more autocratic Russia becomes, the more Russia has to falsify its fragile democratic institutions.

Meanwhile United Russia leader and speaker of the Russian State Duma Boris Gryzlov has told RFE/RL that that there would be no point recounting votes from the elections, as opposition parties ‘would gain no more than 1 additional percent of the votes if the votes are recounted’.  What percentage would be gained is uncertain (arguably significantly more than 1%), but at least his comment proves the obvious: that there were indeed falsifications.