Will Russia’s parliamentary vote be transparent?

With less than 24 hours of official campaigning left, Russian electoral officials and outside observers are gearing up for what they call the most transparent poll in the country’s history. But observers admit they can’t cover every voting booth on Sunda

Just a few dozen specialists will monitor the election, after OSCE observers pulled out.

“We are all in all 55 persons and Russia is a big country. We’ll divide and we’ll cover some polling stations but we cannot cover very much,” said Hanne Severinsen, PACE observer.

After the Warsaw-based OSCE office withdrew its observers, PACE became the centre of the election campaign. One after another, representatives of opposition parties came to complain about what they saw as unfairness.

“International observers are looking at the elections in Russia from the other side. We believe they are impartial and their opinion would be important to understand the results of the vote,” Ivan Bolshakov from the Yabloko party noted.

The doors of the Central Election Commission have been wide open recently. Most of the 400 international observers invited to monitor the elections have already arrived.

Russia’s top election official called on observers to be watchful and report any violation they see. The commission has even established an award for the most active observers.

Vladimir Churov, head of the Central Election Commission, said that special medals will be awarded to those observers who make the biggest contribution to ensuring a fair, transparent and democratic vote.

“One out of five medals is reserved for a foreign observer. Now you all have an incentive,” he said.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin appealed to voters to take part.

“Please don’t make the conclusion that everything is predestined and the road we’ve chosen and the pace will be preserved automatically,” Putin said. He called such view a dangerous illusion.

“Every achievement was gained through fierce struggle and could be preserved only if we have a common and active position as citizens of Russia,” Putin added.