[Hpn] Free and Fair?

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Tue, 04 Dec 2007 06:17:22 -0500


This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

------=_NextPart_000_0015_01C8363D.54C1EF80
Content-Type: text/plain;
	charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable


      December 4, 2007

      Free and Fair?

      By Yelena Biberman


      =
http://www.russiaprofile.org/page.php?pageid=3DPolitics&articleid=3Da1196=
761262 =20
      Violations Reported Across Russia during Sunday's Elections=20

      Sunday's State Duma election results cemented what has been =
predicted by virtually every observer. Yet despite the extraordinary =
predictability of the outcome, numerous illegal measures were used to =
ensure high voter turnout and a victory for United Russia. The =
machinations did more than increase the number of pro-United Russia =
voters, however. They further shrank the number of those who still =
believed in the Russian democracy. =20

      "All day today I have been hearing on television the reason why =
more people than before have shown up to vote in the Duma elections, =
especially in the Krasnodar region. Apparently, our public spirit and =
mentality may have changed for the best. The reality, however, is =
simpler than that," said Natalia from Armavir in the Krasnodar Region, =
who declined to disclose her last name for fear of losing her job.

      She said all work supervisors ensured that their employees went to =
the polls and threatened employees with firing if they failed to show =
up. Her friend told her that he was instructed to take each one of his =
workers personally to the polling station before noon and to report =
three times on the day of the election. Another friend, who is a teacher =
in Armavir, said that teachers were required to log in their names upon =
arriving at the polling stations. The superintendent of Natalia's =
apartment complex personally knocked on each door to convince everyone =
to vote. Natalia's elderly mother was also visited at home.

      Boris Besnin, a Union of Right Forces (SPS) representative in =
Perm, said that the Perm SPS observers noticed some serious violations =
during the voting process. First off, he pointed out the design of the =
voting booths, which did little to ensure the voters' privacy. "Each =
voter could see the other voter's party choice," said Besnin. =20

      Yabloko's legal representative Ksenia Zelentsova gathered today =
with her colleagues to document the violations. She said that after the =
long night of the elections, another long night of counting the myriad =
election-day violations lay ahead for them.

      Polling station no. 444 on Timiryazevskaya Street in northern =
Moscow was one of many in the city where electronic voting technology =
was being tested. The intermediate result was less privacy than ever, =
said a Russia Profile employee who voted there. "The bulletin could not =
be folded and had to be fed face up into the scanner. A large man stood =
near the scanner, presumably to help the voters feed the marked =
bulletin. It goes without saying that the man could very well read which =
party every voter had ticked, which, in turn, could lead to intimidation =
should someone wanted to use it," he said.

      In one of many such instances reported by the Russian media around =
the country, local authorities in the Serpukhov district of the Moscow =
Region gathered all the employees of the district's cultural =
institutions such as music schools and houses of culture, and instructed =
them to vote for United Russia, one such employee said. If they did not =
vote for United Russia, the bosses told them, there would be problems =
with funding the cultural sector, including finding money for employee's =
salaries.

      Grigory Melkonyants, an expert with the monitoring organization =
Golos, said that as many as 2,000 reports of violations of electoral law =
in over 70 regions were made on the Golos hotline.  He said that many =
voters complained of conversations they had at work and in phone calls =
to their homes in which they were told not only to vote, but also to =
disclose for which party they voted.  In the overwhelming majority of =
the cases, pressure was rendered by their bosses or teachers.=20

      According to Melkonyants, observers also informed Golos of =
organized mass voting. For example, in the Siberian city of Ufa, a group =
of students was escorted to vote and, on the way to the polling station, =
the students were not allowed to speak to anyone. Mass voting by =
students and workers was noted in other regions across Russia.  =
According to Melkonyants, there were also instances of students voting =
more than once. In the Chelyabinsk Region, instances of "transit =
citizens" and homeless being brought to vote without being required to =
show any documents were observed.

      Golos estimated that nearly a third of violations were in the form =
of infringements on observers' rights. Another third consisted of =
illegal campaigning. Roughly one-fifth of the total violations were in =
the form of voter lists transgressions; 16 percent consisted of forced =
voting and 13 percent of breaking of voter secrecy, while five percent =
of the violations involved bribery.

      Marina Dashenkova, another Golos representative, said some polling =
stations prevented members of the press from visiting the site and =
refused access to polling station monitors who have a legal right to =
view certain information. In several regions, employees of the newspaper =
Grazhdanski Golos were detained on far-fetched charges.

      A week prior to the election, the Associated Press reported =
widespread manipulation of absentee ballots to ensure both a high =
turnout and a United Russia victory. According to the Associated Press, =
some Russians were told to provide lists of relatives and friends who =
would vote for United Russia. Hospital patients called an election =
hotline to complain that they were threatened with early discharge if =
they did not produce absentee ballots. A teacher in St. Petersburg said =
that the school administration told staff members to get absentee =
ballots from their neighborhood polling stations ahead of the election =
so that they could vote together at the polling station at the school. =
"They didn't tell us necessarily to vote for United Russia, but you can =
read between the lines," she told the Associated Press.

      The United States has urged Russia to investigate claims of =
election-day violations.  White House national security spokesman Gordon =
Johndroe said the White House "expressed our concern regarding the use =
of state administrative resources in support of United Russia, the bias =
of the state-owned or influenced media in favor of United Russia, =
intimidation of political opposition and the lack of equal opportunity =
encountered by opposition candidates and parties."=20

      "We also regret that limitations in Russia imposed on election =
monitors prevented OSCE's ODIHR from fielding an election monitoring =
mission," he said, referring to the Warsaw-based Office for Democratic =
Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and =
Cooperation in Europe.

      According to Vladimir Churov, the head of the Russian Central =
Electoral Commission, a total of about 350 international observers =
monitored the elections.

      While observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States stated =
on Monday in a report that the Duma elections had been democratic, free =
and transparent, RIA Novosti reported that the OSCE and the Council of =
Europe said that Sunday's poll "was not fair and failed to meet many =
OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and standards for democratic =
elections."

      The Communist Party announced that its 300,000 observers had also =
identified some 10,000 violations and said it would ask the Supreme =
Court to rule on the validity of the vote. =20

      Natalia said the election-day in Armavir evoked images of the =
past. "All of the public transportation was free, even the private =
minibuses, which suddenly became much more frequent. The weather was =
terrible: gloomy with some light rain, but people were going somewhere =
in masses - freebies!  And everyone on the bus talked about what they =
were promised at work for voting.  That's how the people's mentality is =
changing. Even in the Soviet days it wasn't so ridiculous
    =20

------=_NextPart_000_0015_01C8363D.54C1EF80
Content-Type: text/html;
	charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<HTML><HEAD>
<META http-equiv=3DContent-Type content=3D"text/html; =
charset=3Diso-8859-1">
<META content=3D"MSHTML 6.00.2900.3199" name=3DGENERATOR>
<STYLE></STYLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY bgColor=3D#ffffff>
<DIV>
<TABLE width=3D"100%">
  <TBODY>
  <TR>
    <TD style=3D"PADDING-RIGHT: 15px; PADDING-LEFT: 15px" width=3D"65%">
      <DIV><SPAN class=3Ddate></SPAN>&nbsp;</DIV>
      <DIV><SPAN class=3Ddate>December 4, 2007</SPAN></DIV><SPAN=20
class=3Ddate></SPAN>
      <DIV><BR><SPAN class=3Dtitle>Free and Fair?</SPAN></DIV><SPAN=20
      class=3Dtitle></SPAN>
      <DIV><BR><SPAN class=3Ddate><B>By <A=20
      style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 9px; COLOR: #434343; FONT-FAMILY: verdana"=20
      =
href=3D"http://www.russiaprofile.org/author_biography.php?author=3DYelena=
+Biberman"=20
      target=3D_blank>Yelena Biberman</A></B></SPAN></DIV><SPAN=20
      class=3Ddate><STRONG></STRONG></SPAN>
      <DIV><BR><SPAN class=3Ddate></SPAN><BR><A=20
      =
href=3D"http://www.russiaprofile.org/page.php?pageid=3DPolitics&amp;artic=
leid=3Da1196761262">http://www.russiaprofile.org/page.php?pageid=3DPoliti=
cs&amp;articleid=3Da1196761262</A></DIV>
      <DIV></DIV></TD>
    <TD class=3Dstatic_control width=3D"35%"><FONT face=3DArial =
size=3D2></FONT></TD></TR>
  <TR>
    <TD class=3Dstatic_text vAlign=3Dtop colSpan=3D2>
      <P class=3Dtitle2>Violations Reported Across Russia during =
Sunday=92s=20
      Elections </P>
      <P>Sunday=92s State Duma election results cemented what has been =
predicted=20
      by virtually every observer. Yet despite the extraordinary =
predictability=20
      of the outcome, numerous illegal measures were used to ensure high =
voter=20
      turnout and a victory for United Russia. The machinations did more =
than=20
      increase the number of pro-United Russia voters, however. They =
further=20
      shrank the number of those who still believed in the Russian=20
      democracy.&nbsp; <BR><BR>=93All day today I have been hearing on =
television=20
      the reason why more people than before have shown up to vote in =
the Duma=20
      elections, especially in the Krasnodar region. Apparently, our =
public=20
      spirit and mentality may have changed for the best. The reality, =
however,=20
      is simpler than that,=94 said Natalia from Armavir in the =
Krasnodar Region,=20
      who declined to disclose her last name for fear of losing her=20
      job.<BR><BR>She said all work supervisors ensured that their =
employees=20
      went to the polls and threatened employees with firing if they =
failed to=20
      show up. Her friend told her that he was instructed to take each =
one of=20
      his workers personally to the polling station before noon and to =
report=20
      three times on the day of the election. Another friend, who is a =
teacher=20
      in Armavir, said that teachers were required to log in their names =
upon=20
      arriving at the polling stations. The superintendent of =
Natalia=92s=20
      apartment complex personally knocked on each door to convince =
everyone to=20
      vote. Natalia=92s elderly mother was also visited at =
home.<BR><BR>Boris=20
      Besnin, a Union of Right Forces (SPS) representative in Perm, said =
that=20
      the Perm SPS observers noticed some serious violations during the =
voting=20
      process. First off, he pointed out the design of the voting =
booths, which=20
      did little to ensure the voters=92 privacy. =93Each voter could =
see the other=20
      voter=92s party choice,=94 said Besnin.&nbsp; <BR><BR>Yabloko=92s =
legal=20
      representative Ksenia Zelentsova gathered today with her =
colleagues to=20
      document the violations. She said that after the long night of the =

      elections, another long night of counting the myriad election-day=20
      violations lay ahead for them.<BR><BR>Polling station no. 444 on=20
      Timiryazevskaya Street in northern Moscow was one of many in the =
city=20
      where electronic voting technology was being tested. The =
intermediate=20
      result was less privacy than ever, said a Russia Profile employee =
who=20
      voted there. =93The bulletin could not be folded and had to be fed =
face up=20
      into the scanner. A large man stood near the scanner, presumably =
to help=20
      the voters feed the marked bulletin. It goes without saying that =
the man=20
      could very well read which party every voter had ticked, which, in =
turn,=20
      could lead to intimidation should someone wanted to use it,=94 he=20
      said.<BR><BR>In one of many such instances reported by the Russian =
media=20
      around the country, local authorities in the Serpukhov district of =
the=20
      Moscow Region gathered all the employees of the district=92s =
cultural=20
      institutions such as music schools and houses of culture, and =
instructed=20
      them to vote for United Russia, one such employee said. If they =
did not=20
      vote for United Russia, the bosses told them, there would be =
problems with=20
      funding the cultural sector, including finding money for =
employee=92s=20
      salaries.<BR><BR>Grigory Melkonyants, an expert with the =
monitoring=20
      organization Golos, said that as many as 2,000 reports of =
violations of=20
      electoral law in over 70 regions were made on the Golos =
hotline.&nbsp; He=20
      said that many voters complained of conversations they had at work =
and in=20
      phone calls to their homes in which they were told not only to =
vote, but=20
      also to disclose for which party they voted.&nbsp; In the =
overwhelming=20
      majority of the cases, pressure was rendered by their bosses or =
teachers.=20
      <BR><BR>According to Melkonyants, observers also informed Golos of =

      organized mass voting. For example, in the Siberian city of Ufa, a =
group=20
      of students was escorted to vote and, on the way to the polling =
station,=20
      the students were not allowed to speak to anyone. Mass voting by =
students=20
      and workers was noted in other regions across Russia.&nbsp; =
According to=20
      Melkonyants, there were also instances of students voting more =
than once.=20
      In the Chelyabinsk Region, instances of =93transit citizens=94 and =
homeless=20
      being brought to vote without being required to show any documents =
were=20
      observed.<BR><BR>Golos estimated that nearly a third of violations =
were in=20
      the form of infringements on observers=92 rights. Another third =
consisted of=20
      illegal campaigning. Roughly one-fifth of the total violations =
were in the=20
      form of voter lists transgressions; 16 percent consisted of forced =
voting=20
      and 13 percent of breaking of voter secrecy, while five percent of =
the=20
      violations involved bribery.<BR><BR>Marina Dashenkova, another =
Golos=20
      representative, said some polling stations prevented members of =
the press=20
      from visiting the site and refused access to polling station =
monitors who=20
      have a legal right to view certain information. In several =
regions,=20
      employees of the newspaper Grazhdanski Golos were detained on =
far-fetched=20
      charges.<BR><BR>A week prior to the election, the Associated Press =

      reported widespread manipulation of absentee ballots to ensure =
both a high=20
      turnout and a United Russia victory. According to the Associated =
Press,=20
      some Russians were told to provide lists of relatives and friends =
who=20
      would vote for United Russia. Hospital patients called an election =
hotline=20
      to complain that they were threatened with early discharge if they =
did not=20
      produce absentee ballots. A teacher in St. Petersburg said that =
the school=20
      administration told staff members to get absentee ballots from =
their=20
      neighborhood polling stations ahead of the election so that they =
could=20
      vote together at the polling station at the school. =93They =
didn=92t tell us=20
      necessarily to vote for United Russia, but you can read between =
the=20
      lines,=94 she told the Associated Press.<BR><BR>The United States =
has urged=20
      Russia to investigate claims of election-day violations.&nbsp; =
White House=20
      national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the White House=20
      =93expressed our concern regarding the use of state administrative =
resources=20
      in support of United Russia, the bias of the state-owned or =
influenced=20
      media in favor of United Russia, intimidation of political =
opposition and=20
      the lack of equal opportunity encountered by opposition candidates =
and=20
      parties.=94 <BR><BR>=93We also regret that limitations in Russia =
imposed on=20
      election monitors prevented OSCE=92s ODIHR from fielding an =
election=20
      monitoring mission,=94 he said, referring to the Warsaw-based =
Office for=20
      Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for =
Security=20
      and Cooperation in Europe.<BR><BR>According to Vladimir Churov, =
the head=20
      of the Russian Central Electoral Commission, a total of about 350=20
      international observers monitored the elections.<BR><BR>While =
observers=20
      from the Commonwealth of Independent States stated on Monday in a =
report=20
      that the Duma elections had been democratic, free and transparent, =
RIA=20
      Novosti reported that the OSCE and the Council of Europe said that =

      Sunday's poll =93was not fair and failed to meet many OSCE and =
Council of=20
      Europe commitments and standards for democratic =
elections.=94<BR><BR>The=20
      Communist Party announced that its 300,000 observers had also =
identified=20
      some 10,000 violations and said it would ask the Supreme Court to =
rule on=20
      the validity of the vote.&nbsp; <BR><BR>Natalia said the =
election-day in=20
      Armavir evoked images of the past. =93All of the public =
transportation was=20
      free, even the private minibuses, which suddenly became much more=20
      frequent. The weather was terrible: gloomy with some light rain, =
but=20
      people were going somewhere in masses =96 freebies!&nbsp; And =
everyone on=20
      the bus talked about what they were promised at work for =
voting.&nbsp;=20
      That=92s how the people=92s mentality is changing. Even in the =
Soviet days it=20
      wasn=92t so =
ridiculous</P></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></DIV></BODY></HTML>

------=_NextPart_000_0015_01C8363D.54C1EF80--