The Kremlin has ways of influencing the results of Russia’s parliamentary election. The aim is to do it in such a subtle way that you’d never guess that the vote was manipulated. Activists have published an interactive map on the Internet, displaying a bunch of red circles with black numbers in the middle: 265, 119, or 25. These represent Russian cities and the number of reported irregularities related to the country’s parliamentary election. This online project is being run by the independent election-observer organization Golos and the Internet newspaper Gazeta.ru. Russians can use it to report incidents related to the election. It is quick, anonymous and unfiltered.
So far, users have reported 3,500 cases of alleged biased reporting in the media, vote buying or supervisors in workplaces exerting pressure on their workers. St. Petersburg is top of the list of alleged irregularities ahead of the vote, with more than 200 reported. Here is one reported on November 28: “The president of our university has told students who live in dorms not to vote in their hometowns but to take the buses laid on here to vote for United Russia. Anyone who doesn’t agree to do so is threatened with expulsion. Students say the president is a member of the United Russia party.”
This is an example of the use of what are known in Russia as “administrative resources.” They are being widely used ahead of this election, according to Sascha Tamm, project director with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Moscow. There is a reason why Jedinaya Rossiya (United Russia) is commonly referred to as the ruling party. Public administration supervisors, mayors and heads of state corporations do what they can to influence their employees to support United Russia, Tamm says.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is also registering complaints about the alleged use of administrative resources. An interim report by the OSCE’s election observation mission highlights the concern expressed by some parties “about the alleged use of administrative resources by the governing party.”