In Koroliov, in Russia, the hard fight of the observers against the electoral “small violations”

By Benoît Vitkine

Posted today at 12:15

Between the president of the polling station and the observer, the tone is not hostile, just a little exasperated. On both sides pierces a point of resignation. “You are still bothering us with details, we will put everything in order! “, impatient the first, Irina Kaïner, president of the office number 3601 of Koroliov, a city of 230,000 inhabitants in the great suburbs of Moscow.

Election officers work during the Duma elections at a polling station in Koroliov, Russia, September 17, 2021.
A woman registers to cast her ballot during the State Duma election at an office in Koroliov, Russia, September 17, 2021.

Alexei Golychev does not budge: the electoral lists are neither linked nor stamped; blank ballots are kept in a separate room from the school, which is not closed. The observer will not write a complaint, but asks that everything be put back in order. The assessors do so reluctantly: the paper is fine and the binding holds badly, they assure; the safe to keep the ballots is too small, not practical. “The bulletins will be inaccessible during the night”, promises Mme Kainer.

“It is after the fact that we discover the extent of the fraud”

Friday, September 17, the legislative vote is only on its first day. It will end on Sunday 19, three days later, a first that fuels concerns. A detail, this business of lists? A few days before the vote, the newspaper Novaya Gazeta unveiled a recording in which a woman, identified as Koroliov’s deputy mayor, sets targets for poll organizers (45% for the ruling party). And she warns: the hardest part is not to find the necessary ballots, but to ensure that their number corresponds to that of those registered on the electoral rolls.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In Russia, legislative elections under a leaden cover

Unbound and sealed lists are easier to forge. In the case of Office 3601, Alexei Golychev believes more in negligence. But he warns: “It is after the fact that we discover the real extent of the fraud. Our job is to do everything to limit it. After our passage in a polling station, the assessors allow themselves less things. There is less fraud and more reasonable scores for power. “ “It is also a question of dignity: to do everything so that our region does not become one of those where the authorities harvest 80% without the slightest protest”, adds his partner of the day, Roman Martynov.

Alexei Golychev, election observer for Russian NGO Golos, in Koroliov, Russia, September 17, 2021.

This ” afterwards “ of which Mr. Golychev speaks, these are the famous “statistical anomalies”. In local elections in 2019, independent statisticians estimated “Suspects” 26,000 ballots out of 60,000: those from polling stations where participation climbs disproportionately without explanation.

You have 49.34% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.

Leave a Comment