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Gazeta, January 22, 2004

Zyuganov and Yavlinsky Will Meet in Court with United Russia

By Rustem Falyakhov and Denis Yermakov

Until the end of the week YABLOKO and the CPRF will sign an agreement and begin work over an application to the Supreme Court. The parties seek to secure a revision of the results of the parliamentary elections held in December 2003. YABLOKO and the CPRF believe that the election results were falsified when data were input into the GAS-Vibori [database] at territorial electoral districts. In reality YABLOKO and SPS overcame the five per cent barrier, obtaining 5.98% and 5.12% of the votes respectively.

The CEC "added" 3.5 million bulletins.

Before the Duma elections on December 7, the Communist Party (CPRF), YABLOKO, and the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) agreed to coordinate their monitoring of the election and vote-count. When the ballot papers were officially counted, the CPRF wrote to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), claiming to have found "gross fraud" and demanding the invalidation of 60,000 ballot papers.

According to the Communist count, YABLOKO and the SPS did overcome the five per cent barrier, receiving 5.98% and 5.12% of the votes respectively.

Gennadi Zyuganov said that the data, based on the processing of five per cent of official protocols, demonstrate that voter turnout was 52.58%, and not 56% as had been claimed by the CEC. In other words, the CEC and its chairman Alexander Veshnyakov allegedly inflated turnout by no less than 3.five per cent to ensure the United Russia party's victory.

The CEC chose to ignore the accusations, so it was decided to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Provisional union

The CPRF and YABLOKO plan an agreement. Galina Mikhalyova, head of the analytical centre of YABLOKO and Director of the Centre for Modern Russia Studies, informed GAZETA that YABLOKO had already signed the draft agreement. "Today we are meeting with the Secretary of the CPRF Central Committee Sergei Potapov for consultations. So on January 22-23 the draft will be signed. Then we will create a joint group which will record actual violations and prepare a joint suit to the Supreme Court."

YABLOKO Deputy Chairman Sergei Mitrokhin explained to GAZETA that "the agreement as such is purely symbolic, as the work is under way. Informal relations are the key." That is probably why the SPS is in no hurry to sign the document.

"The SPS has agreed to cooperate but does not yet know what form this cooperation will take. It is up to the party congress," said Mikhalyova.

SPS leader Boris Nemtsov said that "The Executive Committee examined 14,000 protocols. It was discovered that 20% had been falsified. We will show all this to journalists at the congress. However, it is extremely likely that the congress will decide that we should not go to court against the authorities and the rule of 'Bassmanniy court'."

"The law prevents observer access to the GAS-Vibori system"

Preparing a lawsuit is not easy. The parties will have to provide results (in writing) of their recount of all protocols. The CPRF and YABLOKO have counted them separately and by different methods until now. Mitrokhin told GAZETA that "we counted all the protocols according to 41 points and fixed all the violations by hand. And representatives of the CPRF checked only the correlation of control figures (i.e. the number of the distributed bulletins should equal the number of valid bulletins, void bulletins and lost bulletins).

This means that if those figures did not tally, they cast aside these bulletins and counted the rest quickly with the help of a computer. Now we are asking them to process their protocols according to our methodology, as the court will not accept computer-processed data processed."

According to Mitrokhin, most of the violations "are concentrated in territorial election commissions." Unlike district commissions, territorial commissions are linked to the GAS-Vibori electronic vote-counting system. Mitrokhin says that "falsified data were fed into the system." Thus "the mass-scale addition of bulletins did not actually happen at district commissions (Ed. The lowest level), simply members of territorial commissions added data into the consolidated data tables. This method had already been tried and tested in 1999 and 2000," said Mikhalyova. Sergei Potapov, Secretary of the CPRF Central Committee, agreed with her: "When a network administrator sees that figures in controlling correlations do not agree, he simply arbitrarily enters these figures into computer and this is the probably the basis for the violations. A computer cannot accept such a protocol at a correct input. Nevertheless such protocols get into the system."

Observers were of no help. According to Mitrokhin, "the law prevents observer access to the GAS-Vibori system. Data input is a deep dark secret." Mihalyova also noted that earlier the GAS-Vibori system was controlled by the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information (FAPSI), but after its liquidation the system was taken over by the FSB.

"We will fight to the end"

The parties highly doubt the success of their endeavour. Everyone believes that the Supreme Court will most likely send the suit to the regional courts. "The Supreme Court will probably be guided by political considerations," Mikhalyova said. "But we are going to fight to the end."

Mitrokhin formulated the main tasks as follows: "The maximum task is annulling the election results, but it is very difficult. The second and more realistic task is making liable all those engaged in the falsification. And the third task is focusing public attention on the problem of objectivity and fairness of elections, and the organisation of a politically neutral broad-scale movement for fair elections."


See also:

State Duma elections 2003

Gazeta, January 22, 2004

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