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Russkiy Kurier, December 19, 2003

Differences in Arithmetic between the YABLOKO party and the Central Electoral Commission

Interview with Galina Mikhalyova, Head of the Analytical Department of YABLOKO by Olga Kitova

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 waiting.

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 60,000 protocols!

We have not received any information from the SPS.

Question: And what kind of "mistake" is encountered most frequently?

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!


See also:

State Duma elections 2003

Russkiy Kurier, December 19, 2003

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