| Distrusting regional electoral commissions, leaders
of the Communist Party (CPRF), YABLOKO, and the Union of Right-Wing Forces
(SPS) agreed to monitor the Duma elections together. The failure of the
latter two parties to overcome the 5% threshold could make the task of
recounting the ballot papers even more vital.
Question: The question that concerns everyone: has YABLOKO been
cheated out of representation in the Duma?
Galina Mikhalyova: I'm sure that it has. By 3 p.m.
on December 17, we had processed 5,000 protocols from 38 regions. We found
discrepancies with the official data from the Central Electoral
Commission (CEC) website in 540 protocols. In these protocols we found
some votes cast for YABLOKO that were never counted for some reason. There
are many more protocols to count. See for yourself: dozens of boxes still
In any case, we are already convinced that the count was not fair.
Question: The communists make the same claim on the figures
they have compiled. I have not heard, however, that their observers possess
documentary evidence. How are you cooperating with the CPRF? Do you summarize
results, or is it just an exchange of information?
Galina Mikhalyova: Acting together, we sent observers
to most polling stations. Now we are exchanging protocols from these polling
stations. We use different counting methods. We count the protocols and
the data in them, and record any discrepancies with the CEC reports. The
Communists have some special software. Whenever it finds a discrepancy,
it discards that protocol. They say their system has already discarded
We have not received any information from the SPS.
Question: And what kind of "mistake" is encountered
Galina Mikhalyova: Discrepancies in the tenth field
of the protocol - the number of valid ballot papers.
Question: Why would the CEC bother with the tenth field?
It could just as easily adjust the information in the fields listing the
numbers recorded by parties. Deduct something, or add something.
Galina Mikhalyova: Whenever there were mistakes in
other fields, they were all in favour of a single party. What the CEC
wanted and needed was to bring voter turnout up to the necessary level.
Turnout is steadily decreasing, thus damaging the image of a country with
a managed democracy. There were 66 million voters in 1999, and only 60
million this time. Russian citizens are voting with their feet. Distrusting
the authorities, they refuse to participate in what they
know is actually a sham.
The CEC had to conceal it. Well, it succeeded. We are told officially
that over 50% of registered voters participated in the election. In fact,
voter turnout was considerably less than that.
Question: And what are your plans for the immediate future?
Galina Mikhalyova: The CEC will never admit that there
were substantial violations. We will appeal to the Supreme Court, perhaps
to the Constitutional Court. After all we are dealing here with encroachment
of the rights of citizens as specified by the Constitution.
Failure is forcing us to consolidate. We receive letters from the regions
informing us that regional branches are gaining new members. Aware that
they have been tricked, people are drawing their own conclusions and joining
the YABLOKO party. We have the experience, knowledge, and desire to work.
The party will survive!
State Duma elections