« | »

Fraud Allegations Mar Putin’s ‘Fourth Term’

From his undying fans at Reuters:

Voting fraud allegations mar Putin’s presidential win

By Thomas Grove
March 4, 2012

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A few days before Russia’s presidential election, Sergei Smirnov received a phone call from a man who called himself Mikhail and told him the terms of the deal: you will vote for Vladimir Putin four times and receive 2,000 roubles ($70) in return.

That is better than what ACORN pays, from what we have heard.

The sum was promised to dozens of other young men and women who met on Sunday outside a popular fast food joint on the southwest fringe of Moscow, waiting to be taken to various polling stations in the province that rings the capital.

Smirnov, a journalist, said he found the group a few weeks prior to the election through a friend. Mikhail, whom he met at Moscow’s Yugo-Zapadnaya (Southwest) metro station on Sunday morning, gave him final instructions. "He said we should vote for Vladimir Putin, photograph the ballot, and send him the photograph by phone," Smirnov said.

We sure hope Mr. Smirnov is not his real name.

Smirnov is one of several activists who infiltrated and followed a group of what he said were "carousel" voters, as Russians call people who cast several ballots at different polling stations using documents reserved for absentee voters.

It is a practice critics say has been used to pad results for Kremlin candidates in elections since Putin came to power in 2000, including a December 4 parliamentary vote in which suspicions of fraud prompted the biggest protests of his 12-year rule

Lest we forget, Mr. Putin’s 12 year rule is unconstitutional, at least in spirit. The Russian (ahem) constitution mandates a two term limit. So, rather than run for the Presidency in 2008, Putin his stooge successor, Dmitry Medvedev, anoint him as Russia’s Prime Minister. But, in reality, Putin was really still President.

So this is, in fact, Putin’s fourth term, all totaled. And, he is already promising to run again in 2018, when his current term expires. So Putin now is, for all intents and purposes, Russia’s ‘President For Life.’

Golos, an independent vote monitoring group, received more than 3,500 reports of potential violations nationwide.

A YouTube video posted by someone who identified themselves as Fremstiller showed men in Russia’s southern province of Dagestan stuffing ballots into boxes one after another… (See clip above.)

Lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev said that by Sunday afternoon he had heard of dozens of cases of alleged fraud, including carousels. He said Russia’s electoral system was permeated by a culture of fraud built less on orders from the top than on the initiative of regional and local officials who are eager to please those above them.

"Vladimir Putin has a system in place in which provincial authorities are obliged to hold up the result of the ruling party. They know that if they don’t attain the right result they could lose their jobs," Ponomaryov said. "They act out of instinct to cheat in the elections."

The alleged "carousel" voting ring in Southwest Moscow had voters’ names registered at several polling stations, he said, where local election officials most likely knew they were part of a vote rigging organization but failed to stop them.

"When people have absentee ballots that don’t match their passport … the election commission members usually understand that it is better to let them vote," he said.

All of which sounds strangely familiar.

In a series of video and sound recordings, Smirnov and others documented cars full of voters travelling to Vnukovo, a town outside Moscow, from there to the village of Tolstopaltsevo, and then back to Moscow. Smirnov said he was put in a car with three others, one of whom was a friend who helped him gain access to the group.

"The other two were saying that it wasn’t the first time they had done such a thing and that in the last elections they had voted at six polling stations and for that they paid them 5,000 roubles ($170)," he said.

Natalia Pelevine, who worked with Smirnov, said she and others caught another alleged member of the group handing out wads of 500-rouble notes in a nearby metro passageway to women they had followed in cars from polling stations outside Moscow

During voting the Russian blogosphere was rife with pictures of voters getting on and off buses at polling stations, a familiar scene that can indicate multiple voting.

Some of the thousands of mostly young people who took part in pro-Putin rallies after polls closed were brought to Moscow by bus. A woman at one rally who gave only her first name, Ira, said she had voted at two different polling stations

What is Russian for ‘Project Vote‘?

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, March 5th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Fraud Allegations Mar Putin’s ‘Fourth Term’”

  1. Frank says:

    If they keep that up it’ll soon be as bad as the United States.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »