Russian Elections Under Contest

With the conclusion of the Russian election, many Russians are protesting their result. Thousands have taken to the street in protest of the election count that gives Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party just under half the vote. Unsanctioned protests have broken out in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don and other places. These protests are larger than have ever been seen in the Putin years of government. On Wednesday Russian police blocked off Triumfalnaya Square, a popular place where protests have been held in the past. According to the “Other Russia” party, 70 of their members were arrested on the way to that particular protest. About 1,000 people have been arrested in Moscow during three days of protests alleging election fraud.

There have been several incidents report by the Communist Party of election misconduct. Communist leader Zyuganov has stated that his party monitors halted an attempt to stuff the ballot box at a Moscow polling station where they found that 300 votes were already in the box before the vote began. Olga Lazareva, a Communist working as a polling station official, says she woke a few hours before the polls opened to find her apartment door had been glued shut. She says she suspects other election workers planned to stuff the ballots for United Russia.

Russia’s only independent election monitoring group, Golos, which is funded by US and European money, has come under heavy official pressure in the past week. On Friday it was found guilty of elections violations. The Golos website documenting suspected violations was hacked and the group was fined the equivalent of $1,000 after prosecutors accused it of violating election law. Hackers brought down its website on Sunday, and its director Lilya Shibanova, and her deputy had their cellphone numbers, email and social media hacked. Many have questioned the integrity of Golos as an organization, given that it is funded by Russia’s political rivals.

On Tuesday US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested that Russia’s elections were neither democratic nor fair. She along with Germany made statements calling on Russia to make democratic improvements. She all but outright accused Vladimir Putin personally of rigging the vote.

“When authorities fail to prosecute those who attack people for exercising their rights or exposing abuses, they subvert justice and undermine the people’s confidence in their governments.”

– Hillary Clinton

Meanwhile on the other side of the world an 84 year old woman who was protesting the abuses of power by the 1% was sent to the hospital after receiving critical injuries from police brutality. The elderly woman is in intensive care because she dared question the legitimacy and wisdom of the people running the economic affairs of the country. The legitimate contesting of the ruling classes power has been a sore spot for the US government for months now, the economic elite have already called for an end to this outburst of free speech.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin strongly criticized U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday for encouraging and supporting Russians protesting election fraud, and warned of a wider crackdown on dissents. He says that by encouraging the protests she “gave a signal” to his political opponents that the US will back their attempt to topple him. He’s also called much of the protesters “mercenaries” who are doing the bidding of foreign interests, particularly the United States. Putin warned that the government might take an even harder line.

“We need to think about strengthening the law and holding more responsible those who carry out the task of a foreign government to influence our internal political process.”

– Vladimir Putin

In an unexpected turn of events, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has chimed in on the current electoral situation placing his support firmly behind the protesters. Publicly he said Sunday’s Russian parliamentary election was marred by fraud and has called for a re-run.

“Disregard for public opinion is discrediting the authorities and destabilizing the situation.”

– Mikhail Gorbachev, Former Soviet leader

While the Western media is hailing Gorbachev’s statements in the current process, I personally think very little of them. I take what he says with a great deal of salt, not just a grain. This is the man who dismantled the Soviet Union against the wishes of the people. Those people protested for democracy, not capitalism. They were asking for a return to Soviet-style councils of people’s power, not free market rhetoric. The end of the Soviet Union has brought nothing but declining birth rates, lower living standards, crumbling health care system and decreased education.

As it stands right now there is a great deal of disinformation flowing through media and the country. A wise move would be to remove all foreign interests from the nation and allow the Russian people to settle this matter themselves. No one can speak of democracy while a foreign imperialist power interferes with the political process. The Russian people need to be left to fight this one out for themselves and allow the will of people to settle things.