Russia: Election Fraud and Blogging

Global Voices Online
Monday, October 19, 2009

Reports of vote-rigging in the local elections, which took place in 75 of Russia’s 83 regions on Oct. 11, spurred protests by citizens and politicians in the Russian capital - and quite an outrage among some of the country's bloggers.

In Moscow, the United Russia party, led by PM Vladimir Putin, took 32 of 35 seats in the city legislature; the only other party to make it to the Moscow Duma is the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. There are documents and reports that have been circling the Russian blogosphere this past week, however, which suggest that the results of the election could have been different.

One day after the election, LJ user yakovlev_igor - Igor Yakovlev, press secretary of the Yabloko party, which did not pass the 7 percent threshold of votes necessary to win a seat - performed a simple math exercise on his blog, comparing the numbers (RUS) entered on one polling station's vote returns protocol (RUS) and on the summary table (RUS) posted on the Moscow City Election Commission's website later. Here's what he found (translation of the post and of the tables' content - from the English-language section of Yabloko's site):

[...] Electoral district No 1702, Danilovsky district, Moscow.

All who has seen election campaigns of the recent years mark an unbelievable scope of fraud at yesterday’s election (Moscow City Duma election on October 11, 2009).

Here comes only one example of election fraud:

Protocol of the local electoral commission published at the web-site of the Moscow Electoral Commission

[...] 14 3. Moscow regional branch of the UNITED RUSSIA party 742 [...]

Protocol of the local electoral commission given by the commission to YABLOKO’s observer

[...] 14 3. Moscow regional branch of the UNITED RUSSIA party 192 [...]

United Russia simply “got” 550 additional votes from nowhere. 550 is a beautiful figure. [...]

On Oct. 16, things turned even more "beautiful": the protocol and the summary table from another polling station in Moscow showed that Yabloko did not receive a single vote there - even though Yabloko's leader Sergei Mitrokhin and his family cast their votes at that very location, polling station #192. LJ user yakovlev_igor reported on this development (RUS), too, posting both the voting data and photos of Mitrokhin inside and outside the polling station. Two days later, the Moscow City Election Commission ordered an investigation into this episode, and LJ user yakovlev_igor wrote (RUS):

[...] Not all the mass media wrote about it, but on blogs this has been one of the most discussed topics of the past three days.

Long live the bloggers!

LJ user avmalgin wrote (RUS) about the impact of bloggers, too:

In the Soviet times, there used to be the so-called [Samizdat]. Bulletins on human rights violations were being issued - a certain number of copies printed on a typewriter and distributed mainly among foreign correspondents. Of course, the bulletins were quoted on Radio Liberty, which increased the number of consumers of this info to the maximum. But let us not forget that Radio Liberty was being jammed. And the authors of the bulletins were severely persecuted. [Natalya Gorbanevskaya] - [LJ user] ng68, the first editor of the [Chronicle of Current Events] - would be better at telling this story. [Sergei Kovalyov], who had edited exactly seven issues of the bulletin, was imprisoned for exactly seven years - a year for each issue; [Ilya Gabay] was sentenced to three years; [Gabriel Superfin] [was imprisoned] for five years; [Aleksandr Lavut] - for three years. Et cetera. [LJ user] ng68 herself was dragged away from her typewriter, dressed in a straitjacket and taken to a mental asylum, after which [Joan Baez] wrote a song about her, [Natalia].

What was the Chronicle's circulation? Thirty copies. Well, maybe 50.

Right now in the LiveJournal our, so to say, Chronicle of Current Events has a circulation that the [anti-Soviet dissidents] of the 1970s couldn't dream about. I don't know the general statistics, but my posts are sometimes read by 10,000 people a day. The post about cheating in favor of the United Russia has been read by 45,000 people. Not bad. And this is not the only "chronicle" out there - not one, not two, but thousands. Of course, they are dreaming of plugging this fountain. Not my blog, of course, but LJ in general. I'm sure that they are thinking about it.

And here is what the same blogger wrote (RUS) about the results of the election:

[...] But United Russia doesn't want any competition, it is not used to discussions ("Duma isn't a place for discussions"), it does not understand what a multi-party system is about. United Russia wants to be the only party out there, it want to be the new [Communist Party of the Soviet Union]. By now, even a fool understands that the strategic goal of the current regime has been the restoration of the Soviet regime. And so it is nothing but surprising that Russian parliamentary delegations are welcomed abroad, that the impostors are getting invited to international forums, etc. [...]

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