As in Venezuela, Russia Elections Unfair Due to Putin Abuse of State Media and Resources in Campaign
INTERNATIONAL COMPARISON: A look at the criticisms made by independent election observer organizations regarding the fairness of Russia’s recent presidential elections.
The Russia case clearly illustrates the importance of denouncing and stopping government abuse of public media and resources for electoral gain well in advance of election day. Venezuelans and international monitors must condemn the now continuous abuse of power by President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela’s 2012 presidential election campaign.
A day after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin won Russia’s presidential elections with 63 percent of the vote, international observers called the campaign process and balloting skewed. “The point of elections is that the outcome should be uncertain,” said Tonino Picula, one of the leaders of the OSCE mission. “This was not the case in Russia. There was no real competition, and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt.”
“The elections were unfair,” [just look at] the decision last June to bar a new liberal party called Parnas from the ballot, on the grounds that it had presented organizing petitions with invalid signatures. Parnas included some of the leading liberal opponents of Putin. One of them, former state Duma member Vladimir Ryzhkov, met with Medvedev in February, along with other opposition leaders.
The international monitors focused their criticisms on the context of Sunday’s election, rather than the conduct of the voting itself. Sunday’s balloting went more smoothly than in last December’s parliamentary elections, they said, thanks mostly to the involvement of thousands of citizen volunteers who had made clear they didn’t trust the authorities.
But the campaign beforehand was “skewed” in favor of Putin, said Tiny Kox, head of a delegation from the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly. It was difficult for challengers to get on the ballot—not only was Parnas rejected, but also regionally based candidates and the liberal Yabloko party.
“Without an impartial referee in an election, you cannot play the game we call democracy,” he said. In addition, Putin had far greater media exposure than any other candidates, and government resources were put to use to back his effort, Kox said. The process also “deteriorated” after the voting ended, during the counting, he added. (Washington Post)
Putin abused state media and state resources for unfair election advantage
Putin says he won a six-year term as Kremlin chief in a fair and open contest, but vote monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE) in Europe echoed the opposition’s complaints that the election was slanted to favour him.
“The point of elections is that the outcome should be uncertain. This was not the case in Russia,” Tonino Picula, one of the vote monitors, said on Monday. “According to our assessment, these elections were unfair.”
Unfair Vote :: The U.S. State Department called for an “independent, credible” investigation into all reported violations. Although the monitors said there had been some improvements from a parliamentary poll which observers said was marred by irregularities on December 4, they said Putin still had an advantage over his rivals in the media and that state resources were used to help him extend his domination of Russia for six more years.
Although the observers’ findings have no legal bearing, they undermine Russian election officials’ statements that there were no serious violations. (Reuters)
Russia’s presidential election marked by unequal campaign conditions
Although candidates in yesterday’s presidential election in the Russian Federation were able to campaign unhindered, conditions were clearly skewed in favour of one of the contestants, current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the international observers concluded in a statement issued.
Accordingt o OSCE, the observers noted that all candidates had access to the media, but the Prime Minister was given a clear advantage over his competitors in terms of media presence. In addition, state resources were mobilized at the regional level in his support. Also, overly restrictive candidate registration requirements limited genuine competition.
“There were serious problems from the very start of this election. The point of elections is that the outcome should be uncertain. This was not the case in Russia. There was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt,” said Tonino Picula, the Special Co-ordinator to lead the short-term OSCE observer mission and Head of the delegation of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
“In this election, candidates could not compete on an equal footing. Although the authorities made some effort to improve transparency, there remained widespread mistrust in the integrity of the election process. As a first step, all allegations of electoral violations need to be thoroughly investigated.In an encouraging development, we have seen a great number of citizens taking part in overseeing the election. Their active involvement can be a powerful vehicle for increasing confidence in future elections,” said Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, the Head of the Election Observation Mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. (The Financial)
Abuse of government resources ensured that Putin would be the ultimate winner
International election monitors pointed at the lack of real competition and said the vote count “was assessed negatively” in almost a third of polling stations observers visited.
“There was no real competition, and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt,” said Tonino Picula, the head of the short-term Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observer mission. “Broadcast media was clearly biased in favor of one candidate and did not provide fair coverage of the other candidates.”
Communist Party candidate Gennady Zyuganov was a distant second in the election, followed by Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team whose candidacy was approved by the Kremlin in what was seen as an effort to channel some of the protest sentiment. Prokhorov attended Monday’s protest. The clownish nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and socialist Sergei Mironov trailed behind. The leader of the liberal opposition Yabloko party was barred from the race. (USA Today)
Russia vote lacked competition and fair media access
The OSCE criticized Russia for a lack of fairness in electoral competition, limited choice, and for conditions “clearly skewed” in favor of Vladimir Putin. (RT)
Russian police arrest opposition blogger at protest
Russian riot police detained opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny on Monday after a protest challenging Vladimir Putin’s victory in a presidential election. Prominent anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny speaks to the crowd during a protest demanding fair elections in central Moscow March 5, 2012. Thousands of protesters chanting “Russia without Putin” took to the streets of Moscow and St Petersburg on Monday to challenge Vladimir Putin’s victory in a presidential election which international monitors said was unfair. (Reuters)