From the fringes of power, Ella Pamfilova has spent decades fighting against the odds. As Russia’s first female candidate for president, she ran on a largely symbolic ticket against Vladimir Putin in 2000, earning just 1 percent of the vote. As Russia’s human rights ombudsman, she sought compromise between harried advocates and hidebound officials. But as the newly appointed head of Russia’s Central Elections Commission, she faces an even more improbable task: ensuring that Russia’s notorious parliamentary elections this fall are free and fair. The stakes are high. Russia’s most recent parliamentary elections, in 2011, descended into farce as social media videos of ballot stuffing and accusations of mass voter fraud spawned the country’s largest pro-democracy and anti-Putin rallies in recent memory. The difference now, Pamfilova said in an interview, is that Putin has given a mandate for clean elections. And she says she is the proof.
Russia’s former human rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova was on Monday appointed the country’s top elections chief ahead of parliamentary polls this year. Her candidacy was approved by the majority of members of the central election commission.Russia will hold parliamentary elections this September amid a prolonged economic crisis due in part to the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions over the Kremlin’s role in Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin earlier this month dropped the controversial chief of the election commission Vladimir Churov dubbed the “magician” by the marginalised opposition.