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Gazeta, March 11, 2004

YABLOKO Goes to Court seeking the annulment of the results of the State Duma elections

By Anastasya Matveyeva

The YABLOKO party challenged the official results of the December 7, 2003 parliamentary elections as soon as they were announced. YABLOKO also said that it would file lawsuits. Suits were filed with regional courts and the Supreme Court yesterday. YABLOKO cited a comparison of the data in 14,065 protocols from observers against the figures provided by the Central Electoral Commission.

"We found substantial discrepancies in 2,648 protocols, or 19%," insiders said. "The total number of misplaced votes amounted to 433,356."

"If the verdicts are fair, they will nullify all protocols differing from those provided by observers or containing some discrepancies," said Sergei Mitrokhin, one of the people behind the court challenge. "Here is a typical flaw: a protocol may omit the number of votes for United Russia. Was it omitted to enable someone else at the top to provide that number?"

Mitrokhin also claims that all too frequently there were more votes for United Russia than ballot papers at a given polling station. Protocols signed by observers confirm it, he said.

YABLOKO will now appeal to the Supreme Court to invalidate the elections in the federal districts. It will not stand alone. It has support from the Communists, the Free Choice 2008 Committee, and the Voice Association, which focuses on the issue of free and fair elections. The Union of Right-Wing Forces will not be joining its political rivals in court; it acknowledges that violations did take place, but that is all it will do.

The Communists organized their own vote-count right after the election and discovered that YABLOKO had indeed crossed the 5% threshold. In order to rally with YABLOKO, however, the Communists need another count. "We used methods different from those used by the Communists," Mitrokhin said. "We persuaded them to do it all again from scratch, using our methods."

Experts are pessimistic about YABLOKO's chances in court. "Unfortunately, we cannot be sure that the court is unbiased and fair," said Vadim Prokhorov, an expert on voting systems and formerly a non-voting member of the Central Electoral Commission. "I do not expect the results of the parliamentary elections as a whole to be declared invalid."

There have been such precedents in Russia, but only at regional level. At federal level, violations were recorded in Tatarstan in the presidential elections of 1996.


See also:

State Duma elections 2003

Gazeta, March 11, 2004

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