The Kremlin said on March 13 that the author of a report that claims the ruling United Russia party actually lost the 2011 elections to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation thanks to fraud needs “psychiatric help.” The report is surprising and extremely embarrassing, as its conclusions are not in dispute: it is widely accepted that the Duma elections were fixed, which engendered the widely publicized protests in December that year. And it is surprising because the institute, the Governance and Problem Analysis Center (GPAC), is a state-run body that is chaired by state-owned Russian Railways (RZhD) and by its CEO Vladimir Yakunin. While it is highly unlikely that this is a political play by Yakunin to embarrass his masters in the Kremlin — Yakhnin is a consummate politician and former ambassador to the EU — it is interesting that a prestigious state controlled institution has had the shariki to come out with this sort of claim in public. The deputy head of United Russia’s executive committee, Konstantin Mazurevsky, said in a statement on his party’s website that Sulakshin’s report was based on data “snatched out of thin air.” And a senior Russian Railways representative told Interfax that Yakunin, a Putin loyalist, had nothing to do with the report and said his boss could give up his role at the think tank in light of its conclusions.
The GPAC director Stepan Sulakshin told journalists that United Russia actually received 22% of the vote against the Communists that garnered roughly 30%, while elections officials gave their vote totals as 49% and 19%, respectively.
As bne reported following the elections, the voting numbers show clearly that something very fishy happened during the vote counting. Without wanting to get too technical, votes should distribute themselves along a Gausian or “normal” curve that describes most random events in nature.
The trouble is that United Russia’s vote count has a very “fat tail” and is not a normal distribution, whereas that of the Communists is too “skinny” and also not a normal distribution. This looks extremely odd compared to the vote for parties like those for Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic party of Russia (LDPR) which are distributed along a normal curve.
Secondly there are “spikes” at the multiple of 5s in the counting; something else that also can’t be explained by statistics. In other words, it looks like election officers responsible for counting followed the very human impulse to round up the votes in United Russia’s favor when counting up the totals to give United Russia an advantage without resorting to gross vote rigging.
These statistical clues are not definitive proof, but they do most of the way to showing the vote was rigged, but they also show that the vote was largely open, but tweaked to produce the desired results.