Allegations of election fraud in Russia are not uncommon. But they usually come from the opposition. This video, of a slightly irate, somewhat drunk, pro-Kremlin election observer in Moscow, has become one of the most talked about subjects in the Russian blogosphere, after he disclosed the ruling party's "secrets" of fraud.
Sunday's vote in the capital (October 11) secured pro-Kremlin 73-year-old Yuri Luzhkov, Moscow Mayor since 1992, another four years in office. A powerful member of ruling party United Russia, his 66% win will give both him and the Kremlin more clout in future. Luzhkov is commonly blamed for much of the city's corruption, but remains relatively popular with the general public. There are however many within, and in support of the party, who would like to see him gotten rid of. The following United Russia supporter is no doubt one of them. When he was approached by an opposition election observer on Sunday, he had no qualms about describing how the "merry-go-round" fraud system is operated.
Oleg Kozlovsky, a political activist and member of the opposition fraternity, Solidarnost, was observing the Moscow mayoral elections on Sunday. He claims to have witnessed fraud. But after being arrested for trying to document the activities on his camera, he found himself talking to Klyukin Andrey Vladimirovich. A United Russia supporter and member of the supervising "Zyablikovo" territorial election commission, Klyukin, who has since been labelled a "drunken loud-mouth", then went on to describe exactly how the fraud was taking place:
"At seven o'clock this morning I arrived at Krasnogvardeyskaya metro station. There were 35 cars waiting outside. Five people got into each car, which makes 175 people altogether. They were given a password - it was just ‘Luzhkov'. So, you come to a polling station, ask to talk to the head, say ‘Luzhkov' and you're given your voting card.
It was decided that each person would go to 31 of the polling stations in Zyablikovo. That makes around 4,000 votes. They then do it again, in the evening. So that's more than 8,000 false votes for United Russia. (...) At the end of the day at 10pm, everybody's invited to a reception at the Oblaka trade centre. Alexey Lyubtsov, district head of United Russia's Young Guard, gives each participant 2,000 rubles [€45]. So every Uzbek citizen who voted for United Russia 62 times receives 2,000 rubles. (...) Some of them aren't even 21 yet, so they have no right to vote whatsoever. Nevertheless, they do - if you say "Luzhkov", everything is possible and all laws become void.
I went to the head of our district and told him that I don't think it's right that Uzbekistan citizens are voting 62 times for us. In response the party committee chairman Sidorkina Titov, administration head Upravlionov, and his deputy, Savelnikov, locked me in a room and told me: ‘It doesn't look pretty, but it's necessary to guarantee victory for United Russia'. (...)
Even in the 1996 presidential elections between [Boris] Yeltsin and [Gennady] Zyuganov, the fraud wasn't so outrageous. People have lost their shame. I, as a United Russia member, want to tell Vladimir Putin: ‘Mr Putin, you are a good man. Yuri Luzhkov deserves a rest. (...) This man has been mayor of Moscow way too long. (...)"
After footage filmed in polling stations revealed widespread fraud in the 2007 Duma elections, the use of cameras became prohibited. This video shows a television crew from communist network Red TV filming election observer Ilya Sidorenko trying to stop a girl from outside of the Moscow constituency voting within the constituency. When Sidorenko calls the police, instead of questioning the girl, they arrest him, along with the TV crew. Later we see Sidorenko being interviewed, when he explains that he also saw cars touring polling stations, like those in Vladimirovich's account.
The next day Oleg went to a gathering to protest the fraud. The meeting hadn't even started when riot police arrived. Most of the participants were arrested, and Oleg himself spent six hours in the police station. He filmed this footage of the clashes.