Supporters of Vladimir Putin are using a raft of underhand and illegal methods to ensure his victory in Russia’s presidential poll, according to a report by the country’s top independent election watchdog. Golos said campaigning for the vote on Sunday, and for municipal elections in Moscow and other regions on the same day, was riddled with violations of electoral law. Monitors from the organisation reported that opposition figures had been intimidated, factory workers were being forced to vote under tight control at their place of work and Putin, Russia’s prime minister, had made widespread use of “administrative resources” to underwrite his own campaign. Golos said that public sector workers such as doctors and teachers were being pressured into casting their ballot for Putin.
In one audio recording acquired by the organisation, the director of a college in Lyubertsy near Moscow can be heard telling a group of teachers to each produce ten other people who can vote using absentee ballots at the polling station inside the college. The director tells the teachers “you know who our candidate is” and clarifies that “your future at work depends on it”.
“We have received many reports of people being obliged to attend rallies in favour of one particular candidate [Putin],” said Andrei Buzin, head of Golos’s monitoring department.