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23 Oct, 2009 09:51

Election inconsistencies to no effect

Election inconsistencies to no effect

Protests against unfair elections in Russia have started to yield results – a court in Moscow has ordered a ballot recount and the city election committee has filed in a request to instigate a case against wrongdoings.

The constituency in question is the one in Khamovniki District in central Moscow. The reason for the recount was a complaint by Sergei Mitrokhin – the leader of the opposition party Yabloko – who, to his surprise, discovered that not a single vote had been cast for his party in the district where he himself voted together with his family.

Yabloko complained to the city elections committee and in this instance turned to the court. On Thursday, a district court ruled that the election results in the districts were invalid and ordered a recount.

On Friday, the territorial election commission looked through the ballots and found Mitrokhin’s vote, along with 16 more votes cast for Yabloko. The votes somehow got into the pile of ballots of those who voted for the Communist party, along with three votes for the Liberal Democratic Party and one for the Patriots of Russia Party. The discovery has not changed anything in the final results though – over 90 percent of votes were still for the election winner, the United Russia Party.

This was the first example when violations were uncovered and corrected after the latest all-Russian election day, but there most likely will be more. A representative of the Central Election Commission told the Russian press on Thursday that his agency had forwarded to the court a total of 38 cases with suspected wrongdoings (which is just about 1 percent of the total number of polling stations in Moscow). Thursday was the last day when the commission accepted complaints, so this number will not rise.

Of course, it is too early to say, but it does not take much analytical skill to predict that the remaining 37 cases will end either like Mitrokhin’s case, or even smoother. It is not likely that the victory of United Russia will be reversed even in a single district. Nevertheless, the violations took place and Russian MPs representing opposition factions were within their rights when they demanded answers from the head of the Central Elections Commission.

The official, Vladimir Churov, spoke at the State Duma on Friday and admitted that there had been some wrongdoings. On the other hand, Churov said that the all-Russian elections passed normally and even compared them to the elections of the European Parliament. Churov ignored a question by a deputy from the Liberal Democratic faction as to whether or not he had any conscience.

6,696 elections for places in local legislatures took place in Russian regions on October 11. The pro-Kremlin United Russia won almost all of them. This caused some of the losers – the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Just Russia party to walk out of the parliamentary session and boycott the State Duma for several days, demanding a meeting with President. The protest waned markedly one week later. The meeting with the President has not yet taken place, but all factions have claimed that their leaders talked to Medvedev by phone.

Kirill Bessonov, RT