Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a new list of the Central Election Commission (CEC) members which did not include the commission’s current chairman Vladimir Churov, the RBC news agency reported Thursday. The decree was posted Thursday by the Kremlin press service and appointed five members — Alexander Kanev, Vasily Likhachev, Ella Pamfilova, Yevgeny Shevchenko, Boris Ebzeev — to the commission. Churov’s position will most likely be given to human rights ombudswoman Ella Pamfilova, according to several unidentified sources of the TASS news agency, RBC reported.
Hackers in California attacked several of the Russian government’s websites over the weekend, Russian officials said on Monday, just as the country was trying to conduct elections. “Someone attempted to hack our website and alter the data there, making 50,000 requests per minute,” said Vladimir Churov, chairman of the Central Election Commission of Russia, according to a report in the state-funded Russia Today. Such an attack is known as a distributed denial of service, which is designed to crash a website.
Russia’s Central Elections Commission approved a set of new rules Wednesday for popular bloggers during election campaigns, the Kommersant newspaper reported. Under the new rules, bloggers with web pages visited by more than 3,000 people a day must restrict any propaganda to the campaign period limits, and post “objective and verifiable information about candidates and parties that doesn’t infringe on candidates’ equality,” the report said.
When Russian protesters took to the streets last year following allegations of mass fraud in the parliamentary elections, Vladimir Churov became a popular hate figure. Many held the head of the central elections commission responsible for massaged results that had given the ruling United Russia party up to 99% of the vote in some regions of the country. In a comment widely lampooned by protesters, the then-president Dmitry Medvedev referred to Churov as a “wizard” for his success in predicting the election’s outcome. As the presidential vote looms in the US, however, Churov has gone on the offensive with his own scathing criticism of American democracy.
Elections chief Vladimir Churov raised opposition hopes of overturning Astrakhan’s mayoral election by announcing widespread procedural violations, a claim made by candidate Oleg Shein and his supporters. Video footage revealed procedural violations at 128 of the city’s 202 polling stations during the March 4 vote, although there was no evidence of falsification, Churov told journalists Friday. The announcement was greeted with jubilation by Shein, whose refusal to concede the election to the ruling party candidate and a dramatic hunger strike have turned him into an opposition hero. “Our chances of success in court have been significantly improved,” he wrote on his blog. “Now I’m confident that the court will annul the election in Astrakhan.” Shein says he defeated United Russia’s Mikhail Stolyarov in districts with electronic counting machines as well as in exit polls, sparking allegations that the vote was rigged. Officially, Shein lost the election to Stolyarov by more than 30 percentage points.
Russia admitted on Wednesday that some irregularities had taken place in the course of a disputed mayoral election in a southern Russian city last month, after the victory of a pro-Kremlin candidate there set off a wave of anti-government protests. The disputed election in Astrakhan has become a focus for the opposition as it tries to breathe new life into its protest movement which has lost steam since Vladimir Putin was elected president for a six-year term on March 4. Street rallies against alleged electoral fraud and a prolonged hunger strike by a defeated opposition candidate have thrust the events in the otherwise sleepy Caspian city into the heart of Russia’s political fray. On Wednesday, Russia’s top election official Vladimir Churov said there had been some irregularities after all.
Russia’s chief election official has defended his decision to bar liberal opposition leader Grigory Yavlinsky from taking part in the country’s upcoming presidential election, saying the number of violations in his application to run for the post was “shocking.” “We didn’t expect to face such a great number of irregularities in the signatures collected in support of Grigory Yavlinsky,” Vladimir Churov, head of Russia’s Central Election Commission, said in an interview with the news magazine Itogi published on Monday. “It came as a genuine shock to us.”
The Russian Communist Party presented a pair of scissors to Central Election Commission head Vladimir Churov on Friday, calling on him to live up to his promise and get rid of his beard following reports of mass fraud in December parliamentary elections, Communist lawmaker Anatoly Lokot said.
Back in 2007, ahead of parliamentary elections in December that year, Churov vowed to shave his long, bushy beard if the vote was unfair. However, as the CEC disagreed with Western monitors’ assessment of the polls as “unfair” and “undemocratic,” Churov has kept his beard.
Leaders of three opposition factions in the lower house have prepared a bill demanding that Russia’s new Central Election Commission is elected before the March presidential poll. Gennady Zyuganov of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the Liberal Democratic Party and Sergey Mironov of the Fair Russia party submitted the suggestion to dissolve the Central Election Commission headed by its current chairman Vladimir Churov, and form new commissions starting from district level.
Vladimir Churov, the head of the Russian Election Commission who was put in the unsavory spot of being labeled the “wizard” of alleged voter fraud in the Dec. 4 Parliamentary elections, looks to be free and clear from impropriety. Churov asked election commission officials to consider a vote to remove himself from his position, but only four out of the 15 commission members voted in favor of even considering the issue in the first place, Ria Novosti reported on Thursday. As a result, without any political pressure from the top at the Kremlin, Churov is safe and sound.
State Duma elections failed to meet democratic standards and were fraught with violations, Europe’s main elections watchdog said in a final assessment published Thursday. The report by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, mentions violations like “serious indications of ballot box-stuffing”, so-called group-voting and obstructions for observers. It also reiterates criticism of United Russia from the organization’s mission chief, Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, that the electoral “contest was slanted in favor of the ruling party.” “The distinction between the state and the governing party was frequently blurred by state and local officials,” said the report’s executive summary.
The head of the Election Commission is to explain himself in parliament over allegations of vote rigging. Vladimir Churov is not the only one called to account in investigations into the December vote. Among other officials held responsible for mass violations are the prosecutor general, Yury Chaika, the minister of the interior, Rashid Nurgaliev, and the chairman of the Investigation Committee, Alexander Bastrykin.
About 60,000 fully transparent ballot boxes will be bought by the Russian electoral authorities for the presidential elections on March 4, a top Russian election official said on Wednesday.
Last week, Russia’s chief election official Vladimir Churov proposed making ballot boxes fully transparent to prevent ballot-stuffing. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a frontrunner in the 2012 elections, expressed his support for the move.
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.
The Russian opposition has called on the authorities to annul election results marred by alleged violations and threatened more anti-Kremlin rallies as tens of thousands demonstrated across the country. Officially, police estimates put the crowd on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square on December 10 at 20,000, although organizers cited much higher figures of up to 100,000. The event went off without significant incident and police say no one was detained.
Many media outlets said it marked the largest protest since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In a resolution laid before demonstrators in Moscow, the opposition also demanded the release of opposition leaders Aleksei Navalny and Ilya Yashin and others who were jailed in protests this week.
Russia: Demonstrations denouncing electoral irregularities repressed, election monitoring NGO slandered | fidh.org
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), strongly condemns the pressure exercised on the NGOs, human rights defenders and peaceful protesters who denounced electoral irregularities and called for fair, free and independent electoral processes following the elections results on December 4, 2011, as well as the defamation campaign targeting the Golos, an NGO working on election monitoring, ahead of the election.
Golos (“the Voice”), a major Russian NGO specialising in election monitoring has been the target of a State-organised harassment and a defamation campaign since November 26, 2011. The harassment started a week before the holding of the elections when a State-controlled media, the pro-Government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta, published an article dated November 26, criticising Golos and accusing them of “reducing the process of observing the electoral campaign and voting on election day into a way of making money”.
Later, on December 2, 2011, the State-controlled TV channel NTV entered Golos headquarters to question the staff with cameras in order to broadcast in the evening a half-hour documentary containing sharp criticism of the NGO. In line with the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s statement of November 27, the broadcast alluded that Golos had been a “recipient of grants” following “instructions of foreign governments”, and that the NGO’s executives were handling millions of dollars in cash, in an attempt to discredit them. Vladimir Putin had accused the “representatives of some foreign countries” to pay money to influence the elections and accused western-granted associations to make a “wasted effort” as “Juda [was] not considered the most respected biblical character” in Russia.
Election officials have been ordered to make sure that United Russia collects double the number of votes it is expected to win in State Duma elections on Sunday — even if they have to falsify the results, a senior election official said. The Central Elections Commission strongly denied the allegation. But accounts from other people familiar…
Dmitry Peskov told the AFP news agency: “Even if you add up all this so-called evidence, it accounts for just over 0.5 percent of the total number of votes.
“So even if hypothetically you recognise that they are being contested in court, then in any case, this can in no way affect the question of the vote’s legitimacy or the overall results.”
His comments followed an order from President Dmitry Medvedev for election authorities to look into reports of vote-fixing after the ruling party’s narrow victory sparked the largest protest rallies since the 1990s. Mr Medvedev was roundly humiliated however after his Facebook page, in which he posted a message denouncing Saturday’s 50,000-strong rally in Moscow, was flooded by protesters criticising the Russian president.
The post, which came on the same day that the controversial head of the elections commission avoided an attempt to remove him, sparked disbelief and disgust and within two hours more than 3,500 people had posted comments, the vast majority overwhelmingly negative.
Thousands of people have attended the biggest anti-government rally in the Russian capital Moscow since the fall of the Soviet Union. As many as 50,000 people gathered on an island near the Kremlin to condemn alleged ballot-rigging in parliamentary elections and demand a re-run. Other, smaller rallies took place in St Petersburg and other cities.Communists, nationalists and Western-leaning liberals turned out together despite divisions between them.
The protesters allege there was widespread fraud in Sundays polls though the ruling United Russia party did see its share of the vote fall sharply. Demonstrations in the immediate aftermath of the election saw more than 1,000 arrests, mostly in Moscow, and several key protest leaders such as the anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny were jailed.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has never experienced popular protests like these before, the BBCs Steve Rosenberg reports from Moscow. During his decade in power, first as president then prime minister, he has grown used to being seen as Russias most popular and powerful politician.But as one of the protesters put it to our correspondent, Russia is changing.
This YouTube video, according to a Russian blogger who shot it and posted it online, shows a deputy chairman of one of the polling places in Moscow, a member of United Russia party, stealing the ballots at the end of the voting day without following the procedure for the vote count and registering the official results.
Shot during Russian elections last Sunday, this video is one of many examples of alleged election fraud that went viral, and started anti-government protests in Russia. All week crowd-sourced internet television, bloggers, Twitterers, youtubers and facebookers share information about upcoming protests, photos, videos, capturing mass arrests during the two-day rally in Moscow that followed the election results, showing to the world heavily armed riot police with water cannons. More Russian mass protests against the election results are scheduled for this Saturday: up to 30,000 people are allowed to gather in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square, and 11 other cities in Russia also received official permits. The internet seems to be exploding from the information exchange and attempts to organize demonstrations and to warn about possible provocations.
The wave of twitter revolutions last year swept over Egypt, Tunis, and Iran, and now has finally reached Russia. Fighting against oppressive regime of Putin’s “managed democracy” with twitter and social networking sites seems like an appropriate thing to do in today’s technological world, where citizen journalism flourishes. In the Middle East social media was a big part of the revolutionary awakening during the so-called “Arab Spring”. Could that be the same thing is happening in Russia?
The country’s top elections official said he has been “honored” to be included in the “Magnitsky list” of Russian officials blacklisted for U.S. entry over human rights violations. Vladimir Churov, chairman of the Central Elections Commission, said as a result he would not be able to travel to the United States to work as an observer at the U.S. presidential election in November 2012.
“Of course, I don’t have anything to do with [Sergei] Magnitsky,” Churov said in an interview with Dozhd television aired Tuesday night. “I’ve never seen him, I don’t know him, I had not heard [about him] before the story about his death.”
Vladimir Churov, the head of the Central Electoral Commission, has told the press that the question of Vladimir Putin’s presidency will be finally decided only after the 2012 elections.
Churov was holding a press conference dedicated to future parliamentary and presidential elections in Moscow on Monday. When a reporter asked him if Dmitry Medvedev’s suggestion to the United Russia party to support Vladimir Putin as a candidate at the presidential elections meant the outcome of the elections was already pre-determined, Churov said that it was not so.
“This was not a question, rather a statement and it was a categorical one. I must say at once that I don’t agree with it,” Churov said. The Russian elections chief said that for him the election result will be known only by 9am on the next day after Election Day, when the Electoral Commission receives preliminary reports from over 99 per cent of ballot stations.
Elections for the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, are approaching; the vote is scheduled for December. This election differs from previous ones, however, in that the deputies who are elected will remain in office for five years instead of four, as was the case previously. The constitutional majority currently held by the United Russia party, headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, is also at stake. This majority has formally enabled the party of power to pass legislation without regard for the opinion of other deputies.
So the main question of the December elections is whether the opposition will be able to force United Russia to make room for them in the State Duma. The results of the vote could also affect the March 2012 presidential election, in which Russia’s head of state will for the first time be elected for a six-year term, rather than four-year term.