Election fraud in Russia caught on video: ballot-stuffing, erasable ink and more

Screen grab of alleged ballot-stuffing.
 
Opposition leaders called for a second round of mass demonstrations in Moscow on Tuesday, to protest against last weekend’s parliamentary election amid widespread claims of irregularities favouring Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. Our Observer on the ground, who participated in Sunday’s election as an observer for an opposition party, described what he witnessed once the polls closed and counting began.
 
On Monday, President Dmitry Medvedev hailed the vote as "fair, honest and democratic" as official results revealed that the ruling United Russia party had lost a total of 77 seats in the State Duma, barely hanging on to its majority.
 
Although the results were largely interpreted as a sign of Putin and his party’s waning popularity, the prime minister – who hopes to resume his role at the helm of the country in Russia’s 2012 presidential elections – dismissed the poll’s significance, noting that United Russia still had enough of a majority to pass most legislation without seeking outside support.
 
Yet many who participated in Sunday’s elections claim support for Putin was grossly inflated by election fraud at all levels of the vote. These allegations were later backed up by European election monitors, who said the vote count was “characterized by frequent procedural violations and instances of apparent manipulation, including several serious indications of ballot box stuffing”.
 
As anger grew over the results, thousands turned out in Moscow on Monday evening to protest against the prime minister’s 12-year-reign, demanding a “Russia without Putin”. Police arrested at least 300 people at the demonstration, according to media reports.
 
To prove the elections were largely rigged, a number of voters took to social networking websites, where they posted a deluge of videos claiming to have captured incidents of fraud.
 
Erasable ink
 
Video posted on YouTube by yupych.
 
In this video, the cameraman does a tour of voting booths at a polling station, where he demonstrates that pens provided to mark ballots contain erasable ink. 
 
Falsified ballots
 
Video posted on YouTube by Singinau.
 
This video shows the head of a polling station falsifying ballots. According to media reports, the head of Moscow’s City Elections Commission confirmed the contents of this video, and announced that Russian authorities had opened an investigation into the incident. 
 
Carrousel voting
 
Video posted on YouTube by SnipersonMarysja.
 
This video purports to show a student engaging in “carrousel” or “merry-go-round” voting, when the same person votes several times at different polling stations in exchange for money. In the video, the cameraman explains that he was given the opportunity to make 4,000 rubles (around 96 euros) in exchange for casting 45 ballots for United Russia at multiple different polling stations.
 
On the day of the election, he and three other students meet a young man, who explains to them that they will flash a picture of a partially eaten apple to local election officials as a sign to show that they are there to cast multiple votes.
 
In the video, the student films himself as he receives instructions from his handler, who explains how to re-cast the same ballot multiple times. At 2’45”, the student films himself voting at multiple different polling places. However, he specifies in the video that he quit before completing the 45 votes he was ordered to do.
 
Below standard ballot boxes
 
Video posted on YouTube by TheLakost86.
 
In this video, a representative of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) shows that the polling station’s ballot box is not up to standard by pulling at the sides where the box’s flaps are not securely taped shut.
 
A local election official replies by saying the box had been approved by the election commission. He continues to goad her, at one point exclaiming that the gap can be opened at least 10 cm wide. Eventually, tape is brought out to seal the box’s edges, but the LDPR representative and the local election official continue to argue.
 
Ballot-stuffing
 
Video posted on Youtube by shilov2004.
 
This video claims to show that ballot boxes are already stuffed before voting even begins. In the clip, the cameraman reports that he can see stacks of votes at the bottom of the ballot box, five minutes before the polling station opens. He gives the time as five minutes to eight in the morning - he flashes his watch face to confirm this.
 
He then summons a local election official, and asks her if she can see the ballots sealed inside the box. She replies that she sees nothing. He then argues that everyone else can see them, and tries to convince security at the polling station to intervene. When the cameraman realises they don’t intend to help him, he says in a sarcastic tone “Great!”
 
Contributors

“They were blatantly pretending to count the ballots”

Taras Fedoseev lives in Russia’s capital Moscow, where he is a student. Fedoseev participated in Sunday’s vote as an election observer for the social democratic party, A Just Russia.
 
I can’t say that the ballot count was fraudulent, because there was no ballot count to speak of. The other members of the election commission were blatantly pretending to count the ballots. They wouldn’t even let me close enough to see what was marked on them.
 
After the ‘count’ was finished, the election officials made up some figures – none of which corresponded to the actual numbers they had tallied earlier – and then marked them down as the official results. Despite my protests, they then packed up and left the polling station.
 
The whole count took a total of 30 minutes to complete. The election commission members, many of whom were school-teachers, were very rude. They belittled my questions and even made fun of me. When I tried to tell them that falsifying the results was wrong, they just looked at me said mockingly, ‘neener-neener-neener’.
 
I’m only 25-years-old. How can I tell myself that there is a future for me in this country, after I have seen all this? What conclusions should I draw from this experience? What should I hope for? How can I believe a president who claims that the official election results are fair? That they reflect the will of the voters? What should I do if an election I know to have been in was rigged and not invalidated? Should I just put up with it?”

Post written with freelance journalist Ostap Karmodi.
 

Comments

Reply to comment | The Observers

Hi there, I enjoy reading through your article.

I like to write a little comment to support you.

Hi, I'm a student from the

Hi, I'm a student from the Netherlands. It is bizarre to read what happens in Russia during election time. I could not imagine this happening here.

I am very interested in the Russian elections and especially in the way the Russian people stand up to it. Also the use of social media and citizen journalism is very interesting to me.

Could any of you who are maybe involved in the anti-Putin protests that are going on now, tell me something about it? I would REALLY appreciate it, because I have a few questions I would really like to have answered.

- If you are involved and politically active on social media sites, what does your daily life look like, how much does it affect you? Do you spend a lot of time tweeting, do you record what is going on in your country, do you go to protests and how often?

- What are your thoughts about rights and freedom? What do you think a good democracy should look like?

- Do you use social media sites strategically?

- do you think there might be a revolution coming up in the coming five years?

- On the news I hear that less and less people come to protest, has Russia lost its optimism? Or do you think there is still hope?

I would very much like it if someone took the time to answer these questions for me.

Greeting from the Netherlands!

So What?

Since election fraud seems to happen in most countries, even in the U.S. who claims to be the world's leading democracy, what citizen or country can throw a stone or admonish any other country or government? Which is why International pressure will not work in such instances. How can the pot call the kettle black?People in glass houses should not throw stones.

Great point. Because no one

Great point. Because no one does what we want them to do, we should want them to do what we hope they will not. I see your logic.

These irregularities must

These irregularities must happen if you want a strong government that is not a lap dog of United States and it's allies. United Russia is the only party that can stand against western influence in Russia. Other parties are just a joke. They will sell Russia to NATO as soon as they get in power. You will never understand politics. Certain sacrifices have to be made in order to protect the country from outside influence.

Western powers are waiting to prey on Russian and it's allies. Putin is the only leader who can withstand this.

I agree. The only way we can

I agree.
The only way we can live knowing we are secure from the US, is to trade our freedom for Putin's Facism. He will protect Russia like Hitler protected Germany.

Complacency; you will never understand change

For now it [UR] may be. But using it as an excuse is certainly not conducive to changing that fact. Make more legitimate parties, have people run for PM who aren't circus freaks...but allowing blatantly fraudulent elections take place has a more detrimental effect on your liberties than foreign policy, and eventually you WILL revert back to the totalitarianism of the USSR with none of the benefits.

Also, NATO does not want Russia in it. Ukraine, maybe. But the Western powers are perfectly content with letting the superficial and placating NATO-Russia Council to continue.

It's special kind of humour

It's special kind of humour or what ?

Assuming, arguendo, that

Assuming, arguendo, that democracy is not the ideal form of government for Russia, or is not in the best interests of the Russian people; at least don't lie to your own people about it and tell them their votes mean something. Have the courage to say, "this is not a Democracy because the people do not know what's good for them."

"United Russia is the only

"United Russia is the only party that can stand against western influence in Russia. Other parties are just a joke. " - Comment paid for by United Russia.

What a corrupt peice of shit government. Its sad that russians allowed Putin to get this powerful.

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