A journalist friend of ours just called and told us the following story. He had just got a call from a local musician, a member of an extremely popular local band with a national and international following. This musician had gone today to his polling station in Saint Petersburg to vote, only to be told that he had already voted! When polling station officials showed him the ballot he’d allegedly submitted, he tried to take a photograph of it. Polling station officials tried to have police detain him for this impudent civic act, but in the end let him go.
Meanwhile, his friend and band mate also tried to vote today, at another polling station in Russia’s “Northern Capital.” He was also informed by polling station officials that he, too, had “already voted.” What are the odds of an “irregularity” of this sort happening to two members of the same band at two different polling stations in a city of five million people?
So if and when, later today or tomorrow, Vladimir Churov (the chair of Russia’s Central Electoral Commission and a flagrant clown obviously appointed expressly for the purpose of totally discrediting the idea of free and fair elections in the minds of Russian voters) announces yet another “decisive” victory for United Russia, you, dear readers, should have no illusions: the fix was in from top to bottom, from Vladivostok to Smolensk, from the very beginning to the dismal, criminal end of this so-called election campaign.
If this isn’t the case, then it’s hard to imagine why the campaign to discredit the Golos Association, the only independent election monitoring organization in Russia, or today’s cyber attacks on the web sites of Golos, Echo of Moscow, and other media outlets were necessary.
Or consider this: a Nashi activist in Veliky Novgorod, caught red-handed the other day offering cash for absentee ballots:
And here, some nice old ladies at polling station no. 1484/1485 in Yekaterinburg are shown diligently engaged in filling out ballots ahead of time:
If you think these are “isolated” incidents (as Churov and his band of statistical pirates will no doubt claim), think again.
Finally, there’s such a thing as “soft” coercion, as witnessed by a Facebook friend of ours in Peterhof, a glorious imperial suburb of Petersburg:
I just got back from the polling station, where a friend and I unanimously voted for Yabloko [a democratic opposition party]. In the foyer of the school [where the polling station is located] there’s an exhibition of children’s drawings entitled “Our Strength Lies in Unity.” They think they’re so clever. But no, they’ve proven once again that they’re crooks.