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Elections in Russia: this is only the start

By Alexander Shishlov

March 2, 2012

March 4 marks the date when the people will vote in Russia: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin plans to assume the Russian Presidency for the third time. Unlike the first two times, however, his support is melting on this occasion. A demand for change is building in the country. More and more people are no longer prepared to put up with the lies, corruption, abuses and falsification in the elections.

It is impossible to call what we are witnessing at present free and fair elections. There are no independent courts, while the authorities control all national TV channels. At the same time we can see the administrative pressure on the mass media and the abuses of electoral commissions the official voting results have little in common with the actual expression of will of the electorate.

Political competition on 4 March has been reduced to simulation each of the registered opposition candidates to the President embodies a specific segment of the political system created by Putin. The only candidate, who represented a democratic alternative to the system Grigory Yavlinsky, who was nominated by Yabloko was not allowed to run in the elections on the pretext of casuistic chicanery over the quality of the signatures gathered in his support.

According to the opinion polls, approximately one-third of the participants in the mass protest actions held over the past few weeks in Russia voted in the parliamentary elections for Yabloko and had intended to vote for Yavlinsky in the presidential elections. There can be no doubt that the removal from the elections of the democratic candidate capable of uniting the votes of the discontented was not a legal judgment, but rather a political decision.

Last weekend Yabloko held a congress to discuss voting tactics on 4 March and the strategy for our next actions.

Yabloko called on the party's supporters to turn up at ballot stations and express their protest by symbolically voting against all, thereby rendering their voting slip invalids (the slip does not include the choice against all).
On 4 March tens of thousands of public monitors will work at the ballot stations, including over 30,000 from Yabloko. This time we don't have our own candidate on the voting slip, but we will fight falsification on 4 March and at all subsequent elections, in order to return Russia step by step to free and fair elections and through peaceful means engineer political reforms and regime change, and transform Russia into a modern democratic European country. A country where the law is the same for everyone, where the courts are independent, private property is sacrosanct, where the state protects every single individual, and does not suppress the rights and freedoms of its citizens.

The journey we face will be hard: we know that the people running Russia will not give up power voluntarily. We will have to assert and regain our rights inch by inch and establish at the forthcoming regional and local elections new authorities that rely on the real expression of will of the citizens starting in the cities where society already feels its strength and then throughout the country. Yabloko will establish public committees that will responsible for the discussion of political reforms, will fight for the abolition of censorship of the mass media and for the creation of public television. Yabloko will interact with all democratic public and political associations, so that by acting together we can radically change the current political system in Russia through peaceful means.

Through public discussion, dialog and a round table with the authorities we will achieve our long-term goal the preparation of a Constituent Assembly aimed at restoring the legitimacy of the Russian authorities, which was interrupted by the Bolshevik coup detat in 1917 and the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly in 1918.
4 March is only the start on this journey.

Alexander Shishlov is YABLOKO Bureau member

See also:

The original publication at the ELDR web-site

Presidential Elections 2012


March 2, 2012

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