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Novaya Gazeta, December 18, 2003

Fair game: Communists and YABLOKO question the parliamentary election results

By Orkhan Dzhemal

Sergei Mitrokin, one of Yabloko party's leaders, has stated that according to available information, Yabloko did cross the 5% threshold in the Duma elections - but the party's vote total was artificially lowered just enough to prevent it from getting into the Duma.

Mitrokhin said: "This fact casts doubt on whether it will be possible for us to participate in the presidential election. It is futile playing cards with a card-shark twice."

What grounds are there for these doubts about the veracity of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC)? Within two hours of the start of the vote-counting, Yabloko's result halted at the 4.2% mark and stayed there for the next nine hours; the following day it had risen by only 0.1%. But during those nine hours, ballot papers were counted in Moscow and St. Petersburg - traditionally good cities for Yabloko. In Moscow, Yabloko got 10% of the vote; in St. Petersburg, it got 9%. Four hundred thousand Muscovites voted for Yabloko, or 0.7% of the total voter turnout (55 million people). In St. Petersburg, Yabloko got 150,000 votes - 0.27% of the total. Could this really have failed to get Yabloko past the 5% threshold? After all, Yabloko also picked up votes in other regions of western Russia.

An alternative vote-counting system called Fair Game, established by the Communist Party, provides a possible explanation as to what happened to the votes that went to the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) and YABLOKO. Observers from the Communist Party (300,000) joined observers from the SPS and Yabloko (200,000) to cover 77 out of 89 Russian regions. Numbers from polling stations were supplied to Fair Game. The alternative count revealed a shortfall of around 3% of the vote for the opposition, which had been added to United Russia's total. The SPS and Yabloko were deprived of slightly more votes than other parties, to prevent them from getting into the Duma.

The Communists can hardly be accused of any bias, as the alternative count acknowledges that they were affected by fraud least of all.

The Communist Party has released the following data for the results of voting via electoral lists (20,482,989 voters out of 108,768,722, or 18.3%): United Russia - 33.66%; the Communist Party - 12.6%; the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia - 11.25%; the Motherland bloc (Rodina) - 10.73%; Yabloko - 5.88%; the SPS - 5.04%; the Russian Party of Pensioners and Social Justice - 3.16%.

This information is available at www.fairgame.ru


See also:

State Duma elections 2003

Novaya Gazeta, December 18, 2003

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