Putin invites public ideas on voting transparency

PM Vladimir Putin has called on Popular Front movement activists to gather public and non-governmental organizations’ ideas on how to provide a maximally legitimate and transparent presidential poll.

Putin underlined that he, as one of presidential candidates, does not need “any ballot rigging” during the March 4 vote.

“I‘m interested in absolutely transparent elections. I want it to be clear to everyone. I want to rely on people’s will, their trust, since if it doesn’t exist, there is no point in working,” he said.

Earlier this month, in response to mass protests against alleged fraud during the December 4 parliamentary vote, Putin suggested equipping all the polling stations in Russia with round-the-clock webcams.

On Tuesday, during the session of the Russian Popular Front's coordinating council, Putin came back to the topic, saying that it is important exactly how this idea would be put to life.

Putin stressed that all the four parties that made it to the parliament should take part in the presidential campaign process. Their representatives should be present at polling station, have an opportunity to control the process, while webcams must work night and day and control both the places where ballots are cast and counted.

The leader of the Popular Front, Putin asked for opinion of participants of the meeting on what else could be done to make sure “that there would be no doubts that the elections are legitimate, impartial and transparent.”

“Absolutely, we should stay within the frameworks of the law,” he stressed, as cited by Itar-Tass. The prime minister stressed that no “amateurish performances” are acceptable. Addressing the movement activists, he suggested that they appeal to people, public organizations and listen to their proposals on the matter.

Vladimir Putin also suggested opening an internet debate on improving election transparency.

“Indeed, I believe we should open a discussion on the internet, listen to people, to their constructive proposals, and summarize them. And if you see that there are ideas that would really lead to increasing the transparency of the [voting] process, we should certainly use them,” he said.

In addition, Putin – who also chairs the United Russia party that won the recent vote – expressed his readiness to discuss the issue with the head of the Central Election Commission, Vladimir Churov.

As for alleged violations during the recent State Duma elections, the only way to deal with them is through the courts. Putin stressed than any talks about reconsidering the results are useless now that the State Duma vote has been run, the parties have started their work in the lower house, and a speaker was elected.

The PM accused the critics of the power who doubt the fairness of the election results of having neither a common program nor a clear goal.

“What’s the problem here? [The opposition] have no common program – there are many programs, but no united one – no clear and understandable ways of achieving goals, which are also unclear, and there are no people who are capable of doing something concrete,” he said, cites Interfax.

Putin observed that there are political forces in Russia – as in any other country – for whom a “Brownian movement” is more important than the prospect of development. He stressed though that they have their right to exist and should be treated with respect.