More parties have been banned from regional elections in Russia this year than in 2012, despite the Kremlin’s attempted liberalization of political legislation, a new study said Wednesday. In total, 9.2 percent of the candidate lists submitted by parties for the September 8 elections have been banned, compared with 2.4 percent last year, according to a report by the Civil Initiatives Committee think tank, founded by longtime Kremlin insider-turned-critic Alexei Kudrin, a former finance minister.
The popular mayor of the Volga industrial city of Yaroslavl, Yevgeny Urlashov, has been detained on suspicion of corruption and extortion, just a few months before he was to head an opposition ticket in upcoming regional elections. Mr. Urlashov insisted Wednesday in an interview with the Internet TV station Dozhd that the charges against him are politically motivated. “I had been warned that they would get me out of the picture by any means possible,” he said. The Kremlin’s Investigative Committee said he and two aides are under suspicion of soliciting a $425,000 bribe from a private company in exchange for lucrative contracts to perform municipal services. Urlashov says his accuser is a prominent member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. Urlashov left United Russia in 2011, complaining of the party’s high-handed tactics, and joined the Civic Platform party led by liberal billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. Running as an independent in the April 2012 mayoral polls in Yaroslavl, he overwhelmingly defeated the Kremlin’s chosen candidate, Yakov Yakushev, with almost 70 percent of the vote.
The most intriguing aspect of the early mayoral election in Moscow is its complete lack of suspense. Almost two weeks have passed since pro-Kremlin Mayor Sergei Sobyanin unexpectedly resigned. He then called for a new election in three months, effectively eliminating any possible competition in the process. The election will be held according to the standard scenario of Russia’s “managed democracy” — that is, by preventing the strongest rivals to Sobyanin from running in the race, guaranteeing low voter turnout and applying the Kremlin’s massive propaganda and administrative resources to manipulate the vote. Civil Platform party leader and billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov was expected to have been Sobyanin’s main rival. During his bid for the presidency in March 2012, Prokhorov received nearly 8 percent of the vote nationally and more than 20 percent among Muscovites.
Russia: How a mysterious change to voting tallies boosted Putin at St Petersburg polling station: a citizen observer reports | Telegraph
After Russia’s parliamentary elections in December, it was impossible for anyone in my country not to know that there had been electoral fraud on a massive scale. But I am a historian and obsessed with verifying information for myself. For that reason I joined the more than 3,000 citizens in St Petersburg who committed themselves to monitoring last week’s presidential election. In training sessions, lawyers explained the kinds of irregularities that might occur and how to avert – or at least to record – them. They lectured us on the relevant laws and regulations. They told us how to prevent ballot stuffing and how to detect “carousel voting”, when people vote more than once. “But remember,” they warned on several occasions. “The members of the electoral commission are not your enemies: think positively about them and don’t forget the presumption of innocence.”
Thousands of people in Moscow rallied for and against Vladimir Putin in separate rallies Monday after official election results showed the Russian prime minister handily winning back the presidency. International observers blasted the Sunday election, saying the outcome was never in doubt. Some foreign governments pledged to work with the new leader despite concerns about electoral violations. “The election has not been exemplary, to say the least,” said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe. With more than 99% of the votes counted, Putin received 63.75% of the vote, easily avoiding a runoff in a field of five candidates.
Tens of thousands of Russians are expected to take to the streets on Saturday despite Kremlin efforts to ease tensions over disputed elections and Vladimir Putin’s expected return to the presidency. More than 50,000 people have indicated their intention to attend a protest on Moscow’s Sakharov Prospect, named after the late leading Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov. Thousands more have signed up via social networking sites for protests in more than 80 Russian cities.
The protesters are hoping to capitalise on the momentum launched earlier this month, when up to 50,000 people turned out in Moscow alone demanding the Kremlin overturn parliamentary election results that saw Putin’s United Russia take a majority in the Duma despite widespread accusations of fraud.
The former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, the novelist Boris Akunin, the anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny and Ksenia Sobchak, the Russian “It Girl” and daughter of Putin’s mentor, are among those expected to address the crowd. Protesters will don white ribbons to symbolise their opposition to the election results, which they say are a sign of their country’s lack of democracy. The oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, who is running against Putin, also said he would address the rally.
Russian election authorities officially registered Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Monday as a candidate for president in next year’s election, they announced on their website. Putin will represent his United Russia party, the Central Election Commission said.
The move is the latest step toward Putin’s reclaiming the presidency after switching to the prime minister’s office because of a law barring him from serving more than two consecutive terms as president.
Russia’s third-richest man, the billionaire New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, announced this month that he will run against Putin for president. Many ordinary Russians suspect the Kremlin put Prokhorov up to it to give the impression the contest is fair.
Russia: NJ Nets owner Prokhorov to put full-court press on Putin by running for president | The Washington Post
Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia’s richest tycoons and the owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, said Monday he will run against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the March presidential election.
Prokhorov, whose wealth Forbes magazine has estimated at $18 billion, has been cautious not to cross Putin’s path in the past. But the tycoon’s candidacy may now pose a serious challenge to Putin, whose authority has been dented by his party’s poor showing in Russia’s Dec. 4 parliamentary election and allegations of widespread fraud during the balloting.
Putin’s party only won about 50 percent of that vote, compared to 64 percent four years ago, and the fraud allegations have allowed opposition parties to successfully mount massive anti-Putin protests in Russia. “The society is waking up,” Prokhorov said at the news conference in Moscow to announce his candidacy. “Those authorities who will fail to establish a dialogue with the society will have to go.”