Annulling elections a road to chaos – Public Chamber

RIA Novosti / Valery Melnikov
Russia’s Public Chamber has criticized calls for the results of elections to the State Duma to be cancelled, adding that they oppose all public discussion of the issue.

“The annulment of the elections is a road to chaos and anarchy. All disputable matters must be considered in the court only,” said the deputy secretary of the organization, Mikhail Ostrovsky, as cited by Interfax.

He stressed that no public investigations of the December 4 poll results should be carried out. The problem should not be discussed at protest rallies either.

“All complaints about alleged violations should be examined at court sessions rather than on squares,” Ostrovsky underlined. “The public, for their part, should control the process.”

On Friday – five days after the parliamentary elections – the Public Chamber convened in Moscow to discuss the topic of “civil society and the electoral process.”

Chamber member Iosif Diskin believes that the very suggestion of illegitimacy flies in the face of common sense. He pointed out that over 60 per cent of voters came to the polling stations to cast their ballots for their favored candidates.

“Two thirds of the country’s population trust the political system and have expressed that absolutely clearly. Under any kind of rules, these elections are legitimate,” he said. However, the political scientist added that the reasons for the protesters’ discontent should be analyzed.

Nikolay Svanidze, a TV journalist and political expert, said the authorities should take into consideration the opinion of the thousands of citizens who have taken part in rallies. He observed that so far, the Russian political system – including the leader of the majority United Russia party Vladimir Putin – has not faced such problems. In Svanidze’s opinion, the sides should look for a compromise and the Public Chamber could become a mediator between the ruling power and protesters.

“We don’t need revolutions and revolutionary moods,” he stressed, adding that the task is to avoid such things. Therefore, “a dialogue between the authorities and society” is needed. Svanidze said that he would not refer to protesters as the opposition. He noted that many of his friends – including prominent journalists, respectable people and advocates of active citizenship – are now taking part in election protests.

Speaking at the meeting, another member of the body, lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, voiced concern about the planned mass protest rally against alleged election fraud planned for Saturday in Moscow, which thousands of people are expected to attend. Similar actions are planned in other Russian towns.

“Of course, people have a right to take to the streets and stage rallies – that’s their constitutional right. At the same time, the rights of other citizens should not be violated,” the lawyer pointed out.

Kucherena called on organizers of the Saturday protests to respect the law and not give in to provocations.

“In case there are provocations or violations, we will react promptly,” he said, adding that he hopes everything will go smoothly.

For safety reasons, the lawyer called on journalists to wear special waistcoats and badges.

Over a thousand protesters have been detained in Moscow since the beginning of the week for taking part in rallies unsanctioned by the city authorities. The main demand of opposition supporters is the cancellation of the December 4 vote results and a re-run of the poll.

On Thursday, President Dmitry Medvedev stressed that reports of election violations must be investigated. The head of state said that there was nothing preternatural about the rallies, saying they are a manifestation of democracy. He said he was aware that there are people “who are disappointed” over the election situation and “who are disoriented.” However, Medvedev called on citizens to act legally.