[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]

The Moscow Times, March 12, 2004

Putin Calls on Voters to Show Up

By Francesca Mereu

Igor Tabakov / MT
Protesters calling for a boycott of the election on Pushkin Square. The posters read, "Protect Freedom," and, "No to Arbitrariness."
President Vladimir Putin went on national television Thursday to urge Russians to use their votes Sunday -- in a clear attempt to increase the turnout of an election he is expected to win easily.

The Kremlin has been reportedly concerned about a low turnout, which could embarrass Putin and weaken his mandate.

In a two-minute address broadcast on Channel One and Rossia television channels, Putin told Russians that their voices would determine the vote and dismissed accusations from challengers that election results could be forged.

"There are no middlemen between the voters and the candidates for the post of the head of state," said a stern-looking Putin. "Under the Russian Constitution, Russian citizens directly, i.e. personally, choose the deputies, the head of their cities and villages, the governors and -- on March 14 -- the president of their country."

Putin called the elections "one of the main achievements of democracy," and told voters that only their support "can make the future president of Russia feel confident."

Meanwhile, one of Putin's five challengers, left-leaning nationalist Sergei Glazyev, published an open letter to Putin in Novaya Gazeta on Thursday, saying local officials are under pressure to ensure a high turnout and falsify ballots in Putin's favor.

On Wednesday, Glazyev said some regional leaders had held meetings with local elections officials to make sure that 70 percent to 75 percent of all votes cast are for Putin.

Central Elections Commission chief Alexander Veshnyakov said Wednesday that he expects turnout to be higher than the 56 percent recorded in December's State Duma elections. Turnout must top 50 percent for the vote to be valid.

On Wednesday evening, a demonstration on Pushkin Square held under the slogan, "The elections are cancelled," urged voters to boycott the election.

"Putin has turned the elections into a farce," said Ilya Ponomaryov, one of the organizers, from the Union of Communist Youth. "We want to show that by casting our ballot on March 14 you are sentencing democracy to death."

Protesters cast symbolic ballots into a box next to a table with black bread and vodka -- brand name "Putinka" -- the traditional refreshments at a Russian wake.

The protest, which was also organized by Young Yabloko, the youth movement of the Union of Right Forces, and the National Bolshevik Party, was sanctioned by the city's central district administration.

Muslims leaders have called on Muslims to vote Sunday.

Cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri would vote from the international space station by proxy, Interfax reported.


See also:

the original at

Presidential elections 2004

The Moscow Times, March 12, 2004

[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]

Project Director: Vyacheslav Erohin e-mail: admin@yabloko.ru Director: Olga Radayeva, e-mail: english@yabloko.ru
Administrator: Vlad Smirnov, e-mail: vladislav.smirnov@yabloko.ru