The Russian presidential election is over and guess who won? Vladimir Putin won at 63.64% of the vote. Gennady Zyuganov of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation at 17.14%. Mikhail Prokhorov an independent politician and billionaire came in with 7.94%. This result gives the incumbent Putin a larger majority than he had with the last election. As hotly contested as the last election was, this one is shaping up to be just as troublesome. Immediately after the the results were announced, political opponents of Putin were making accusation of electoral misconduct.
Observers who were registered with Mikhail Prokhorov have already reported over a thousand violations. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party said that his registered election monitors had received “rough treatment” at several stations throughout the Russian regions. Several parties in defeat of Putin have declared that they will not recognize the result. Despite their adamant claims of electoral misconduct, Putin assured all the candidates at a meeting that all reported violations will be carefully investigated by the Central Elections Commission. Zyuganov was the only candidate that refused to attend.
Al-Jazeera is reporting that international election monitors are declaring the election to be “clearly skewed” in Putin’s favour and “lacked fairness”. Tonino Picula, the head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said, “There were serious problems from the very start of this election. The point of elections is that the outcome should be uncertain. This was not the case in Russia. There was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt.”
Candidates had their own statements:
“As a candidate, I cannot recognize the poll as honest or fair or decent. Fair elections presuppose that the huge state machine is working to ensure that everything is done strictly according to the law, that all candidates have equal conditions in their election campaigns. In this case, our entire huge, criminal and corrupt state machine was working for one candidate only.”
– Gennady Zyuganov, Communist Party leader
“What about those people, millions of people who voted for me? Shall I abandon them? It is a very subtle question. We shall not start hysteria, but sit down together and work on every particular case of violations, press for the cancelation of results and make sure that criminal cases are started over this.”
– Mikhail Prokhorov, independent
Despite the allegations of misconduct, the head of the Central Election Commission Vladimir Churov says that most of the complaints of violation had no legal basis. He predicts that real violations are unlikely to exceed 300 for all 96,000 ballot stations across Russia. In a statement he reminded people that malfunctions with the web cameras that were placed at poling stations are not considered to be misconduct as they are not required to be there. They were installed as a gesture of good will by the ruling party at a cost of $300 million. He concluded by claiming some of the international monitors were there to gather classified political or military information on the country. He also said, “More and more often observers are trying to get into border military units and closed nuclear or missile centers. And their number is growing”.
With the election now over it is likely that such accusations will continue. In the near future there may be some proof of electoral fraud that may be brought before the public. But for now it seems there is little proof of any wrong doing on the part of Putin and the state. The real test now as many of his opponents have pointed out, is for Putin to carry through on the promises he made during the election.