All Opinion Polls Relevant To Russia’s 2011 Duma Elections

For now I’m just making the data available without commentary. Make of it what you will.

Levada (18-21 Nov), VCIOM (19-20 Nov), and ISI (4-10 Nov) predictions of election results based on polls.

Election results as of Dec 9th 2011, 16:55 Moscow time, 99.99% counted.

VCIOM (62 regions), FOM (80 regions), and ISI (24 regions) are exit polls.

The FOM exit poll also had a breakdown by federal region, but it has since been removed from their site – perhaps because of the inconvenient discrepancies between it and the official tallies in Moscow, the Volga Federal District, and the North Caucasus Federal District. Fortunately, some enterprising sleuths saved the relevant files beforehand.

A comparison of United Russia’s official results with the regional FOM exit polls can be found at Alexander Kireev’s blog. It is translated and reproduced above.


  1. Did you see Fox using footage of the Greek Riots when discussing the protests against Putin? lololololol

  2. Nice and useful table. One you will never find in the “free” western media that has everyone in the west convinced that Putin stole the elections.

  3. AK, yesterday I carried out an analysis of the final exit poll results displayed on Kireev’s blog in your previous blog entry (A Quick Note On Russia’s Duma Elections 2011). I don’t know if you saw it or if you missed it in the sea of other comments, but if those preliminary results of 23% support for UR are based off a similar sample size as the one for the final exit poll results displayed on the blog then the same issues should apply, so I will reproduce the analysis below:

    Looking at the details I notice something about Moscow:

    1. They give Moscow separately from the federal districts, so I would assume that the exit polls for the central federal district is really “central federal district except Moscow”

    2. The results were from 53% of the vote counted/persons exiting sampled (I’m assuming that is what is meant, I don’t know Russian but understand the cyrillic alphabet to an extent and had to rely on Google’s translation tool to tell me what the 53% represented) and where 37% of the respondents declined to give an answer. Based on that it means out of the theoretical 100% (that they could have/should have sampled) the actual figures were (assuming the 37% is 37% of the 53% sample):

    Fair Russia – (0.53-(0.37*0.53))*16.3 = 5.44%
    LDPR – 3.67%
    Patriots – 0.5%
    KPRF – 8.51%
    Yabloko – 5.24%
    UR – 9.18%
    Right Cause – 0.2%
    Invalid – (not sure how to calculate this, whether as part of the 53% sample or as part of the 33.39% that gave an answer)
    Declined to respond -0.37*0.53 = 0.1961 = 19.61%

    Total (not including invalids) = 52.36%

    Yet to be sampled = 47%

    Persons from whom there was no answer (either yet to be sampled or declined to answer) = 19.61+47 = 66.61%

    So for the Moscow figures the percentages should only relate to about 33.4% of the total respondents. With 19.61% of the total respondents not giving an answer and 47% not having even been polled yet. For UR to have gotten about 48% in Moscow would require about 58% OF the 66.61% (19.61 + 47) of persons from whom the exit pollsters did not get an answer at the time. For UR to have gotten 45% would have required 53% of the same 66.61%.

    Unless I am wrong and the 53% and 100% and 80% figures given in the second to last row here ( represent voter turnout, but I don’t see how an exit poll could determine that.

    When it comes to the North Caucasus one could reasonably expect voting fraud as local bigwigs are obviously eager to please whoever is in power. To what extent would the fraud in the North Caucasus affect the results of the entire election I’m not certain, but a quick wikipedia check shows that the North Caucasus accounts for about 6.6% of Russia’s total population.

  4. alexander mercouris says:

    Dear Anatoly,

    I agree with Hunter.

    You might also be interested to check out the analysis of the elections by Patrick Armstrong and Godfrey Hahn in Russia Other Points of View with which I broadly agree except that unlike Patrick Armstrong I think the results in Chechnya are so extreme that even one accepts his analysis (which I don’t) I find it impossible to believe that there has been no electoral manipulation there.

    Lastly I would make two further, final points:

    1. I suspect that the reason we have disproportionate footage of alleged shenanigins in Moscow is not because the elections there were especially corrupt but simply because that is where the bulk of the radical opposition is. Activists amongst these people seem to have been busy prowling around the capital’s polling stations during the election looking for what they could persuade themselves were electoral irregularities and as tends to happen if you look hard enough for something you already believe in you usually find it irrespective of whether or not it really exists.

    2. There is somewhere (possibly on RT’s website) references to a Levada poll taken a week before the election that shows what most Russians actually think of the radical non parliamentary opposition. I don’t have to tell you that it is a mistake to confuse internet traffic with public opinion and I say this regardless of what happens at the demo tomorrow.

    • Alex,

      Could also be that the radical opposition collects where they know they get the most attention from the Western media and its hangers-on. Might be interesting to find out what results polling stations in less bourgeois parts of Moscow generated and if activists hung out in those areas to harass voters. We may be talking about a chicken-and-egg situation here.

      Were there any similar shenanigans in St Petersburg? That city would be an interesting “control” (in the scientific sense of the term: using a control population or sample as part of an experiment or study) that the results in Moscow could be judged by, allowing for differences in population size.

  5. You’re wasting your time, AK, the more numerate of your fellow useful idiots have already conceded the obvious:

    О доказательствах двугорбого неверблюда и статистических соломинках

    • Mr. Pankratov is clear that he bases his judgment on the “volume of data”. Many of the alleged violations were complaints by observers that they were not allowed to inspect ballot boxes or that they sometimes did not have a direct line of sight to what was going on. An evident aim of Golos going into the ground game was to register as many violations as possible.

      Golos was not even an official observer – that’s the OSCE, and their preliminary report suggests nothing like the way events are being portrayed.

      • Many of the alleged violations…

        I’m afraid you got it all mixed up. This is not about violations of the electoral laws, this is about the official voting data violating the laws of statistics.

        • Now see what you’ve done, Peter. I fear for the future of your and Anatoly’s friendship, and you even managed to annoy Yalensis, mildest of the happy-go-lucky. I’m trying to be careful of your feelings here, but you’re beginning to be a bit of a social hand grenade. You want to have friends, don’t you? Of course you do.

          Why don’t you come over to my place, and we can talk statistics over a nice cup of tea.

        • How does Pankratov get his “примерно 10-15%” extra votes for United Russia?

          Yes, the statistical evidence, as in the 5% consecutive peaks, the disruption of UR’s leptokurtic distribution once it approaches very high figures, etc certainly indicate the presence of many electoral violations (tho as I explained in an earlier exchange, the higher turnout / higher UR vote correlation does NOT necessarily imply fraud). How do you get from there that UR’s vote was as low as 35%? I have followed Kireev and did not see any calculations justifying such a huge discrepancy.

          That is about 20% points lower than pre-election polls. It is also quite a lot lower than any exit poll, including the most comprehensive one, FOM’s 43% (which indicates that large-scale and systemic violations largely took place in Moscow and the ethnic republics).

          My impression is that the falsifications are at around 5%.

          • How does Pankratov get his “примерно 10-15%” extra votes for United Russia?

            He explains this in the very first paragraph and provides clickable references.

            … the higher turnout / higher UR vote correlation does NOT necessarily imply fraud…

            This is specifically addressed in paragraphs six (beginning with the words “Второй фактор”) and seven. Do you ever read stuff before commenting?

            That is about 20% points lower than pre-election polls.

            Who cares? First things first.

            It is also quite a lot lower than any exit poll…


            My impression is that the falsifications are at around 5%.

            Okay, and how would you break down the remaining 45%?

            • His graphs look nice, but they hide that the method is (extremely) crude.

              Yes, I read it. Pankratov does not reference his claim. There is plenty of evidence and examples to the contrary, including in countries generally acknowledged to have “free and fair” elections.

              I would also note that IF the Extreme Falsification Hypothesis is true, it would basically discredit all Russian opinion polling for the past… I don’t know, at least decade.

        • On the topic of correlation of high turnout / more votes for particular party =/= falsification.

          Anyway, peter, you may want to read this:

          Bundestag 2002: falsified in favor of the Social Democrats?

  6. None of these NGO’s are actually “independent” as the MSM claims and the Golos manager admits hacked emails with contacts with the US state department.

    I knew of massive external and through crime and terrorism networks and financing of NGO’s international pressure on Russia but I thought the political system in the country was relatively stable.

    Now it looks like the start of the eminent collapse of Russia and civil war with the annexation of the Caucasus via Chechnya and control of the Caspian basin along pan-Turanian/Turkish ethnic lines which I warned back in 2008 on your forum.

    The only option is for Russia to outline its key regions and plan for its collapse.

    @Anatoly Karlin

    Ever heard of Far West Gulf LLC?

    I think it is the smoking gun that links former Soviet military and intelligence, organised crime, Chechen and Islamic terrorism in the Caucasus and Central Asia, YUKOs oil company, Halliburton, western intelligence and interests in the Caspian oil industry.

    There editorial site supports the current protest movements.


    In your picture you look like the guy from Postal 3.

  7. I saw this story today, it includes some screenshots of e-mails showing that Golos was paid by the piece (by U.S. state department) for “discovering” any irregulaties.

    Here is a letter by activist Andrey Suvorov to Melkonyants:
    I just wanted to discuss the conditions of our work once again.
    Like we have defined it, it is piece-rated.
    What will be the sum for one full appeal based on a violation report?
    What will be the sum for the detected incorrect report about a violation?
    Waiting for your answer.
    If necessary, I will come up with my suggestions.
    Best regards, Andrey.”
    Shibanova explained the letters discussing rates for violations reports by the fact that Suvorov is a lawyer who really was “piece-paid” for checking such messages. She also told Life News, “this correspondence was attained illegally.”

    “It was withdrawn from the mailbox of my deputy, Grigory Melkonyants; he often sent emails from his account by my orders. Cracking a mailbox is unlawful, and we will apply to the court,” she said.

    Regardless whether the e-mails were obtained illegally (which is doubtful, since privacy laws generally do not apply to electronic mail), there is a legal principle called “ipsa loquitur res”: the evidence speaks for itself, regardless how it was obtained.

    In summary, there is ample evidence of illegal U.S. meddling in this Russian election.

    • I am heartened to see Uncle Volodya is not backing down, and spoke of toughening laws for NGO’s to operate in Russia, in the interests of Russian sovereignty. Of course that will be played like a violin by the western press – Putin is afraid of democracy, because then he won’t be able to steal from the Russian people to build more palaces for himself, yada, yada, so he’s crushing freedom.

      It should be noted by Russians, whom even many western sources assess as a particularly well-educated population, that the freedom Putin is trying to crush is the freedom for western NGO’s to agitate for regime change from within Russia itself. It’s like willingly playing host to a malignant cancer.

      Here’s a suggestion for you, Uncle Volodya, if you’re a reader of Sublime Oblivion; direct all foreign NGO’s operating in Russia to prepare a report within 30 days, detailing the measurable contributions they have made in the last 6 months to the furtherance of an advanced living standard for Russians, a better understanding of business principles or the rudiments of a trade or trades that create jobs for Russians, or an improvement to human rights. Each such report would have to be countersigned by a trustworthy Russian official, a list of which would be provided to each NGO.

      Those who could not produce such a report, who could not get an official to substantiate their report or whose reports reflected that their only measurable contribution had been in the form of agitation against the government would be given 2 weeks to leave the country, not to return until a plan submitted from outside the country satisfied examiners that re-admittance would be in the best interests of the Russian people.

      I’m afraid I am not available to be Prime Minister, so you’ll have to take it from there.

      • Yes, I agree, Mark, I think it is more than time that Russia kicked out these foreign NGO’s, and please have them boot out OSCE as well, like Lukashenko did. Otherwise, these NGO’s will corrupt and destroy any possibility for democracy in Russia. Here’s the thing: I am one of those people who was heartened by the good showing of non-UR parties, and of course I disapprove of vote-rigging, which most likely took place. But best way for government vs. people to deal with these matters is as they are doing: dialogue, haggling, protests, whatever. This is all part of democracy, but the moment foreign NGO’s get involved, they taint and undermine what might otherwise be a very healthy process. I am also very worried that Western provocateurs will attempt to incite violence, as they are doing in Syria.

  8. alexander mercouris says:

    I am not an authority on electoral law but I am fairly sure that it would be illegal in Britain for a group like Golos that took money from a foreign government to involve itself in an election process be that as a direct participant or as a monitoring group. Obviously I am not referring here to international monitors from organisations such as the OSCE that are set up by treaty though I have never heard of such observers or monitors working in Britain.

  9. From what I understand the error margin for exit polls is much higher than for normal polls. The pollsters don’t get to ask thousands of people but a much smaller number. Also, people are not as comfortable giving answers at the polling locations as from their homes: they are not really anonymous. The 37% who chose not to respond in Moscow to one of the polling organizations cannot be assumed to be a random subsample (as has already been suggested). There are also significant differences in the exit polls from from VCIOM and ISI for Russia: about 10% nationally (so regionally they can be over 20%).

    It is strange that UR is the party with the largest spread amongst the exit pollsters by far. Either this is a case where UR voters were too shy/ashamed to confess their voting preference or there is some funny business with the polling organizations themselves. Ballot stuffing has nothing to do with the exit poll differences so that is another issue. Each of the three exit pollsters, VCIOM, FOM and ISI differ by nearly 5% from each other. If VCIOM was colluding with evil dictator Putin, then was the plan for FOM to contrive a number half way between ISI and the party line? This is nonsense. ISI had the smallest number of regions in its sample so one could try to attribute the spread to sampling. But how do you then explain the small variation for Fair Russia if this is sampling? Random chance? This is not likely since VCIOM is also close to the number from FOM and ISI.

    Maybe UR voters really were uncomfortable exposing themselves. It is possible that voters for the other parties were more brave and not timid showing their support for underdog parties. But just maybe, FOM and ISI had what amounts to 5th columnists in their ranks who targeted UR. They were too dumb to mess around with the other party preferences leading to the singular variability for UR in the three exit poll results. This makes sense since faking self-consistent variability is hard to design and implement, they could have made the other parties look like fraudsters. I find it hard to believe that UR supporters were uniquely embarrassed by their choice leading to this odd variation in the numbers.

    • A good deal of western effort was put into making UR synonymous with “the Party of Crooks and Thieves”; Julia Ioffe even made sure to get it in to her short interview, immediately prior to the vote, and implied that “everybody in Russia” refers to UR by this disparaging term. Although it is a great deal less popular in Russia than it is in the west, where it is repeated with moronic and metronomic regularity in an effort to make it take root in the public consciousness…perhaps it did make some voters uncomfortable with confessing their choice.

      If so, it’s a valuable lesson for Russia. Perhaps during the U.S. presidential election, Russia can put some of that wad of cash it’s sitting on into rebranding the Republicans, “the Party of Cocksuckers and Liars”.

      Not like it isn’t true, after all.

      • Yes, the “Shy Tory” might well have a counterpart in the “Shy Edross”. Thanks to Mercouris for alerting me to that political science concept.

        That said, sorry guys, but I still think Moscow’s elections were marred by widespread and systemic falsifications. The mountain of evidence (even excluding exit polls) is too vast to convincingly surmount.

        • But who was falsifying what for whom. I don’t believe that UR support in Moscow was under 30% and nobody has provided any poll numbers to back this up. Systematic fraud to get from 48% to 49%? Really? This is not the 2000 US presidential election where some hanging chads could make a difference.

          The proportional representation system in Russia means that you can’t manipulate the number of seats in the house by fixing tight races. In the first past the post system you can and it is quite worthwhile. Since a 20% vote rigging in Moscow has no basis, this leaves a manipulation of a few percent in Moscow (maybe 5%) and that is not enough to make a difference whether UR gets a majority or not. Faking 10% in various regions is much, much easier (e.g. Chechnya). And there may well be much more discontent in these regions who are not suffering from Moscow’s prosperity. But somehow there was massive fraud in Moscow? So that the western media and governments could use this to delegitimize the Russian government? Putin is not that stupid even if the liberasts want him to be.

    • alexander mercouris says:

      Dear Kirill,

      You and I and possibly Hunter are the ultras who insist that the official result in Moscow is correct. Like you I still hold to that view though not always for the same reasons. Anatoly thinks otherwise. Shall we wait and see what he says about it in his post?

      (PS: Anatoly, as someone who suffers regularly from writers’ fatigue or block I say take as long as you need)

      • I am not trying to provoke a fight. I don’t expect AK to reply to my posts, it’s just a board thread after all.

        I am having a hard time seeing the sense in fraud at the 5% level when the second largest party is at the 20% level of national support and the third and fourth at about 13%. The anti-Putin liberasts have a problem with this too since they claim the fraud is massive even though they don’t have any opinion polls from before the election to back up such nonsense.

        The western media has created the consensus that a little bit of fraud rendered the whole election invalid. This is Orwellian newthink and not analysis.

      • Just wait for the article please, Kirill. I think it will be published within half a day or so.

      • I wouldn’t say the official result in Moscow is definitively correct, but I would say that claiming it was incorrect based on an exit poll which seemed to have the lowest percentage of respondents of all regions (53%) and the highest level of respondents refusing to answer (37%) is clutching at straws. In comparison to the other regions where there seemed to have been larger sample sizes (60-100%) and lower rates of refusal to answer the Moscow exit poll that a lot of the Western MSM seems to have latched upon would be one which in statistical terms seems the least trustworthy. There could still have been and probably was some amount of fraud in Moscow. But I don’t see how the claim can be supported that there is a 20% difference and that 20% of the ballots were fixed based off that one exit poll for the reasons I outlined above.

      • Anyway, judge for yourselves. Does this look like a remotely normal (pun intended) distribution for UR in Moscow?

        • The KPRF got 20% in Moscow according to official results but according to this graph they got 20% of the ballots only at 10 voting locations. It looks like they got 26% of the votes at 2 locations. The turnout is being convolved with the balloting for some reason.

          Each “uchastok” has to be normalized for voter turnout since non-voting registered voters do not go into producing the vote tally. Why not just plot raw numbers on the x-axis instead of percent out of total registered?

          If you adjust the 13% peak for the KPRF to 20% this gives SR 12.3%, LDPR 10% and Yabloko gets 8% which agrees with official results. So UR should have a peak at 31%. I see a bimodal distribution for UR. A broad peak (it is Gaussian enough for me) at about 31% and another at 13%. Bimodal distributions for votes are not evidence of fraud ( This graph really has to be reworked to account for turnout. The turnout cannot be assumed to be the same for all polling stations and party support cannot be assumed to be the same fraction at each polling station.

          There is also the issue of voting dynamics for fringe parties vs. one large mainstream party. As a party loses support its voting distribution may become unimodal and narrow. UR seems to have locations where over 60% of the people that bother to vote support it. But none of the other parties have locations where they have more than 20% except for the KPRF. To me this says that in Moscow the other parties are marginalized. If the KPRF and UR were running neck and neck they could have similar bimodal distributions.

          Ballot stuffing is a shift of the distribution in one direction. There will be some dispersion but it is skewed towards higher numbers. So vote fraud cannot take a sharp peak at 31% with a half width of 5% and flatten it out to produce a half width of 15%. If we are to assume that UR has the same support as the KPRF (13% out of registered) with a sharp peak then amateur hour, banana republic cheating can create a double peak. Nobody noticed that the KPRF and UR were neck and neck in Moscow? Which phantom party has 30% support? If the 30% was robbed from the other parties then their distributions would be messed up. Specifically there is no evidence of votes over 26% (out of registered) for the KPRF and none over 20% for the other parties. One would also expect a pileup of votes under 10% for the KPRF but their distributions are narrow (a negative skew is being applied if they are being robbed).

          • You’re right – it doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t not make sense in a way that suggests fraud. If somebody was trying to do an end run, it doesn’t appear to be United Russia. But that should have been clear at the outset – as many people pointed out, UR would certainly not rig the vote to give itself less. And as Anatoly pointed out, to those who suggest if UR had not rigged the vote it would have been slaughtered, like 31% or something – that totally disagrees with all the advance polls. Those have been shown to be extremely reliable in the past.

            I don’t disagree there is something funny going on, but it’s unlikely there will be any substantiation for allegations of widespread cheating by UR. Not because I think they’re incapable of it, but because they would know the whole world would be watching for it.

            It looks (from Alex Mercouris’s recent comments) as if the other parties realize that supporting a western revolution scenario would not be in their best interests, either.

        • I saw a placard with a similar graphic bandied about at the Moscow demonstration. Without context, such plots are basically useless. Do the support Gaussians stay narrow as a party’s support increases to the levels of UR? Without an answer to this it becomes a case of lying (not by you, AK) with the truth.

  10. “the Party of Crooks and Thieves”; Servants is a pathetic bunch of morons

  11. Does anyone have any verified numbers for the Moscow demonstration? On TV it looks fairly respectable, but not anything like the 30,000 people claimed by Navalny-ites. Of course, it is hard to estimate crowds, but some people specialize in that.

    • Estimates ranged from 20,000-150,000, but the consensus converged on 30,000.

      But, judge for yourself. 🙂

      • alexander mercouris says:

        The police estimate is 20-25,000. Itar Tass is saying 20,000. The British press is saying 50,000. This appears to be based on a comment by Vladimir Ryzhkov that there were 40,000 people present and 10,000 “on their way” (did they come?)

        I read somewhere that the square where it was held can take 10,000 people. Allowing for the overflow and churning (people coming and going) 25-30,000 seems about right.

        Overall it seems to have been a cheerful and good humoured affair with no arrests and no trouble. Apparently the protesters have been thanking the police for acting so professionally (my source for that by the way is the Daily Telegraph). The venue and the time as we know was agreed with the authorities in advance and all the arrangements went as agreed and as planned. All the parties that won seats in the Duma say they will take them. No one is suggesting a strike or a lock down. If this is a revolution that it reminds me of Lenin’s quip about the German revolutionaries that before they stormed a railway station they would queue up to buy tickets.

        • So this must have been a genuine demonstration not organized by the “other Russia” CIA rent-a-crowd. The troublemakers on Sunday and Monday started blocking intersections as soon as they could. Nobody was “quashing” them until they started to break the law.

          I think quibbling over whether it was 20 or 50 thousand is pointless. If the fraud was at the 20% level in Moscow there would be much more unrest and the crowed would be much, much larger. I respect the demonstrators for keeping it civil.

          • alexander mercouris says:

            Dear Kirill,

            No I am sure it was not the “CIA rent a crowd”.

            What I have heard is that the first demo on Monday was lawful and authorised. The police by the way say it attracted 2,000 people, though others put it higher. It only turned violent when Navalny and Yashin tried to lead a break away group on a march to the Kremlin. This is the usual provocation tactic, designed to provoke trouble and an arrest, which of course it did. The repeat protest the following day was unauthorised and much smaller. It certainly attracted fewer than 1,000 people and the number may have been as low as 500-600. Accounts differ. There was again trouble when some of the protesters tried to march on a rival Nashi rally. There was a third attempt to stage an unauthorised protest on the following day but the numbers on this occasion were very low, certainly less than 100 and perhaps as low as 30. Apparently the protesters were outnumbered by the number of journalists present.

            • @alexander: I was able to find a video accompaniment to your comment which has English subtitles so everybody can enjoy. Note: This is NOT the peaceful demonstrations of yesterday, but the Navalny-ite demo from last week December 5. The video shows Navalny haranguing the crowd. I believe it was after this haranguing that Navalny attempted to storm the Kremlin and got his ass arrested. When only 300 followers (out of the say, 2000 in his crowd) agreed to follow him on this suicide mission, that is the moment when he screamed at them, “You are all a bunch of sheeps f*cked in the mouth!” A comment that was later repeated in a tweet by Prez Medvedev, but directed back at the Navalny-ites.

  12. Okay, let us stipulate that the number 30,000 is more or less correct. Next question: who are these people? (based on banners, slogans, etc.) ? Any Communists, or other parties, or are they all Yabloko/Navalny-ites. If Navalny is actually capable of drawing 30,000 people into Moscow, then for sure Russia is in for some hard times ahead. I guess Navalny will be the new Yushchenko. If so, West is scraping the bottom of the barrel in their selection of a new puppet: they usually pick a turncoat who had a post in the government that they are now trying to overthrow. Navalny is a complete amateur. Still, it is scary that he has so many followers.

    • alexander mercouris says:

      Dear Yalensis,

      The short answer to your question is that there were definitely a lot of Communists there. All the photographs of protesters shown by the British press that I have so far seen have shown protesters waving red flags and in most of the interviews with the protesters that I have heard or seen those protesters who are prepared to say how they voted have said that they voted Communist. I should say that they appear overwhelmingly to be young people. Obviously I cannot say from London what proportion of the protesters were Communists but bear in mind that the British press consistently ignores the Communists so the fact that we are seeing photos and interviews with Communists suggests that there must have been many. Oddly enough I have not yet come across an interview with a protester that mentions Navalny at all though that may simply be chance or an oversight by me.

      Anyway I am sure that this is not a “Navalny demo”. The reason the numbers have come up to 30,000 or so is because supporters of the parliamentary opposition parties were given the green light by their parties to attend it. There is nothing to suggest that these people support Navalny. Certainly the Communists don’t.

      Can I ask you and the others on this blog who speak Russian a frivolous question? I have seen some references to Fair Russia as the “SRs” and I even saw somewhere a reference to them as the “Socialist Revolutionaries”. Is this what they actually call themselves? Are they identifying themselves with the great SR party of pre revolutionary times? If so then I find the thought charming though given that the original SRs operated a famous terrorist network I also think it would be wildly inappropriate.

      • No, not at all.

        SR = Spravedlivaja Rossija = Справедливая Россия.

        • alexander mercouris says:

          Thanks Anatoly!

          I have just checked the Guardian and I see that it also mentions anarchists and ultra nationalists as present though apparently in small numbers.

          Overall and from a distance this looks to me basically like a student demo. I am not saying that everyone there is a student (though the student population in Moscow is enormous) but the core of the protest seems to be made up of people who either are students or who recently were students. The worst way to deal with such a demo is to try to suppress it and the biggest mistake the authorities could have made would have been to send in the riot police. That is the certain way to radicalise young people (and their parents!) and to inflame a situation. The authorities have not made this mistake and the demo has gone off quietly and well.

          Outside of Moscow the response to what was supposed to be a national day of action does not seem to me to have been very big. The biggest demo was apparently in St. Petersburg and attracted perhaps 7,000 people. Elsewhere turnout was much smaller. Across the whole country perhaps 60,000 people demonstrated and that may be a generous estimate.

          • I agree totally.

            I am thinking more and more of May 1968 in France as a useful guide to how to navigate this pickle without inciting a full out revolt.

            I think the Kremlin is doing the right steps so far.

            • alexander mercouris says:

              For anyone interested I have just read on the Voice of Russia website that when Kasyanov tried to speak at the demo he was received with boos and whistles from at least part of the crowd. OK it’s a government channel but it has actually been pretty fair and thorough covering not just the demo itself but the build up to it over the last few days.

              • Sean’s Russia Blog quotes a source who says the demonstrators are mostly young people who do not remember the “trauma of the 90’s” and who are unafraid of change and dream of meteoric careers.

                Like Khodorkovsky’s, perhaps? Most would describe his career as meteoric by any measure. He shared that meteoric rise with…about 6 other people. How did the average person make out? Uh…not so meteoric, I’m afraid. So if we’re going to stipulate the crowd stood at about 3000, I figure that leaves about 2,993 who would get screwed over, if a return to the freewheeling, giddy days of asset-stripping privatizations is what they desire. Nothing like a little personal ruin to teach you respect for change, I always say.

                If I were them, I’d be careful what I wished for, because I don’t care for those odds.

      • Thanks, Alexander! Your comments make feel me feel much better about these demonstrations. I cannot find decent news about them, and Western MSM makes it sound like Navalny is the new Messiah, leading all his faithful Hamsters into the streets. I am conflicted about the situation: If the 30,000 people in the street are mostly KP and SR, then I think that’s wonderful. If Navalny-ites, then not so much!
        By the way, I agree with everybody that police have to handle this just right and err on the side of niceness. The slightest incident could spark something nasty, and I am very suspicious of western provocateurs. I am sure that OTPOR is out there somewhere, trying to stir things up.
        I give some credit to government/police and city officials, they totally know that they have to be very careful. So far it looks like everybody is behaving. In fact, if KP and SR play their cards right, maybe they use these demonstrations to bargain for a few more seats in Duma. For example, Central Election Commission could suddenly “discover” that some rogue election official miscounted some votes and undercounted for KP.

        • alexander mercouris says:

          Thanks for your comments Yalensis. Robert has a good comment about the demos and he can watch Russian TV unlike me.

          • alexander mercouris says:

            Dear Mark,

            I don’t think one should be alarmed by this situation. Yes the people protesting are predominantly young and yes they do not have personal memories of the 1990s. However the important thing not to lose sight of is that the parties that they appear to be supporting seem predominantly to be on the left. The impression I get is that we are looking at a totally normal political evolution. The country suffered a horrifying trauma in the 1990s. In the 2000s there was a recovery and the emphasis was on stability and this led to an atmosphere of conformity. Today young people as is common are rebelling against the conformism of their parents. The important thing is that they seem to be doing it from the left. I do not get the impression that they aspire to be young Khodorkovskys. In fact so far as I can see his name was never mentioned during the protests, which given the publicity he has received and the cult created around him is a telling fact.

            I understand that after what happened in the 1980s and 1990s many people are nervous of protests of this sort. There is also the problem that our friends in Washington and London are always there probing for weaknesses and trying to manipulate the situation to their own advantage and to distort and misrepresent whatever takes place. At some point however if Russia is to move forward and develop a stable political system it has to be able to accept and live with protests especially by its young people who in any country are always prone to protest. To my mind that is basically what happened today and though I may be in a minority I would assess today’s events in a positive way.

            • Oh, I don’t disagree with protest in general – if the government is to be responsive to society’s complaints, it must know what they are. It is the suggestion that today’s young Russians reject stability in favour of potential social mobility and “meteoric careers”.

              Meteoric careers in Russia are most often associated with the oligarchy and seizing control of state assets at pennies on the dollar. That might be great for the individual, but it’s not good for the country.

              As none other than that rippling hunk of sleek Opposition muscle from Sochi, Boris Nemtsov, pointed out in that horrible Speigel piece- Russians can leave any time they like. Those who aspire to a meteoric career should try having one in the west for a couple of years. Maybe Russia will take you back after that sobering experience. If you do happen to score a genuinely meteoric career – and you don’t have to sell crack or defraud shareholders to do it – well done to you.

              There’s a great piece in yesterday’s eXile, about how the OSCE helped rig the Yeltsin elections in favour of Yeltsin and then passed them off as free and fair afterward. It goes into considerable detail later on about how attitudes came to change regarding Putin when the west began to realize he wasn’t the Yeltsinesque patsy they had taken him for – and election assessments began to change accordingly. For anyone who thinks its just another unsubstantiated bootlicking-to-the-Kremlin opinion piece, it relies heavily on testimony from Michael Meadowcroft – 1996 Elections Mission Chief to Russia on behalf of the OSCE.


        • For a very good photo essay on Saturday’s demo in Moscow see Alexandre Latsa’s blog here

          As to numbers, using these rules and Google Earth I come up with at least 40K in the overhead photos of Bolotnaya Sq so, to account for coming and going, 50K would be an acceptable guesstimate.

          • Sorry forgot to add these rules here


            Try it yourselves

            • alexander mercouris says:

              Dear Patrick,

              Thanks for this.

              Looking at these photos and speaking as someone who has attended many demos I’d say 50,000 looks on the high side to me. I notice that the person who took the photos puts it at between 30-35,000. Anyway putting aside any question about numbers (where any estimate can only be an informed guess) the important thing is that several tens of thousands of people turned up and were able to demonstrate peacefully and quietly without any trouble.

              Just a further observations:

              1. Judging from these pictures the number of ultra nationalists and monarchists amounted to no more than a handful. Apparently in the authorised anti immigration rally today no more than 250 turned up. Taken together with the election results this does not to my mind support claims about a great ultra nationalist, anti immigration movement in the country.

              2. Not that it matters but does anyone have any ideas why so many more men than women turned up? Are men more likely to support the opposition than women? I notice by the way neither Zyuganov or Mironov turned up.

          • grafomanka says:

            Thanks for sharing this.
            Russian dreams “Fair elections and world without NATO” 🙂

  13. I watched every single Russian newshow I could get my hands on (Ren-TV, NTV, Rossia, Channel 1) and my sense is that the demonstrators are really a fantastic hodge-podge of everything imaginable including nationalists, communists, monarchists (?), the Pirate Party of Russia (which was denied registration and which I like a lot), Iabloko (of course), lots of non-party folks disgusted by the corruption, and God knows what else.

    There is no doubt at all in my mind that lots of folks in Russia are sick and tired of Medvedev, Putin, “United Russia”, the corruption, the arrogance, the window-dressing, the often half-backed or plain dumb “reforms”, the lack of political diversity and a sense that the system is basically rigged. It is. I agree with that. I just don’t think that its rigged by means of ballot stuffing, but by making sure that he opposition is 90% buffoons and 10% fringe-marginals (ex: Limonov and his National-Bolsheviks).

    Likewise, I never denied that there is a important minority of folks in Iran who want government change and even regime change.

    But none of that means that the elections were rigged or that the regime in power does not have popular support, if not by a majority then at leas by a plurality.

    In the case of Russia that means that the government party “United Russia” as MORE THAN TWICE the votes of the Communists. This is not a “thin margin” even if the BBC claims it it.

    The opposition in Russia covers the full political spectrum, from the (now twice imprisoned) GRU Colonel Kvachkov, to Boris Nemtsov. But being simultaneously numerically small and politically widespread, it means that it is – by definition – very very *thin* and that is cannot come up with any plan besides “we hate the regime” and “the elections results piss us off, therefore they were rigged.

  14. It seems to me that the cogs of power in Russia have more or less anticipated foreign influence and kept the real trouble-makers out of the process…that would be Nemtsov. It’s funny that Spiegel would grant this guy status as “Russia’s most prominent opposition politician”. Apparently this guy’s not much more than career snafu Obama in reverse. I can’t see the motive for UR doing funny business at election time. They simply can do what the USA does, rig the candidate pool and have the media do the demographic steering. Bottom line…Spiegel is a fishwrap.

    Looks like Bill and Hillary are getting increasingly paranoid about American and European energy supply.,1518,800546,00.html

    • Thanks for the Spiegel article, donyess, I enjoyed reading it. Is it just my imagination, but it sounded like the interviewer was treating Nemtsov with something less than adoration. Like when he asked the question: SPIEGEL: In 1997, you were the deputy prime minister and were regarded as a potential successor to then-President Boris Yeltsin. Today, you are a regime critic with no hope of gaining political office. Has this made you a bitter person?
      That’s an “ouch” kind of question.
      And the interviewer also scored a point when he asked incredulously: SPIEGEL: You aren’t seriously comparing Putinism to Stalinism …
      Nemtsov’s reply to this question reveals his complete arrogance and megalomania: he admits that he is completely free as an individual, he can travel, do interviews, say whatever he pleases. The only thing that is denied him is power: Nemtsov: The repression was more drastic under Stalin, of course. I can travel or emigrate to the West today. I can express myself freely on the Internet and speak with SPIEGEL. People lead their lives as they please. This was not possible under Stalin. Putinism is the absence of political freedom coupled with personal freedom. In this sense, Putinism is progress compared to Stalinism. I can do as I please. But what I can’t do is influence the balance of power. Russia deserves something better.

    • Comical. Nemtsov would make perhaps the worst president Russia has ever had, because he’s so in love with himself it’s hard to watch. He’s a little behind the times in his hand-signal recognition, too.

      And when I’m driving, people in the next lane use hand signals to let me know that they think: “That’s great.”

      The raised fist with the middle finger extended does not mean, “That’s great”.

      The rest was mostly typical Nemtsov boilerplate – I could have turned Russia into Kuwait with oil at $20.00 a barrel, while Putin can’t even balance the budget with it at $110.00. Economics is a lot more complicated than Nemtsov seems to think, and talk is cheap. I particularly liked the part when he said, “Putin wants to govern for the rest of his life, and that means stagnation, degeneration and marginalization for Russia. Optimists believe that he wants to remain in office until 2024, while pessimists say it’ll be until 2036.” Based on what? He’s just pulling numbers out of his ass. I guess “pessimist” in Russia means, “Can’t fucking add”. And Russians’ household income rose an average 10% a year for 8 years straight – does that look like stagnation to you, you pompous prick? Are Russians really ready to throw away stability like that in favour of a few whiz kids having “meteoric careers”? And while we’re talking about that, the west constantly yaps about poor foreign direct investment in Russia owing to its instability. What? And now conservatives are dancing in the streets and french-kissing each other because of the “return of political instability”? Are you high, or something?

      Boris’s western pals the USA and UK kept the Shah of Iran in power for 25 years – even if Putin wins and then wins a second term, he still won’t match that. How about some of your trademark scathing erection jokes for the CIA on that one, eh, Boris? The west – again, mostly the USA, kept Hosni Mubarek in power in Egypt for nearly 30, during which time his people tried 6 times to assassinate him.

      Got anything to say about the poor Egyptians, Boris? Stagnation? Marginalization? Despair? Boris? Boris?

    • Опираясь на эти данные, я делаю вывод, что реальная фальсификация, включая использование админресурса и давление на бюджетников, была в пределах 5-7%.

      Good to see. Dovetails exactly with the estimate I made in my article.

    • Но давайте пойдем на крайности и отрежем еще и результаты, где у ЕР > 75% голосов, посчитав их заведомо ложными… Оставшееся количество голосов: 43387304, из них за ЕР: 18569503 (42.80%)… Это беспощадное и адское урезание голосов, поскольку даже у других партий бывает 75%+ на некоторых участках. Т.е. это заведомо заниженная оценка. И даже тут расхождение “всего лишь” 7.3%


    • What a thought-provoking and pithy comment!

  15. Ivan Melnikov (Vice Speaker of Duma from Communist Party) rebukes Saakashvili and advises not to get overly excited about the street demonstrations in Russia. Saakashvili had tried to latch himself onto this “pro-democracy” movement and compared “struggles of the Russian people” to those of “occupied regions” of Gruzia.
    Melnikov: “What is happening in Russia should not concern either Mr. Saakashvili or his sponsors from the U.S.A. administration.”
    Also: “Yes, the Russian people are going out into the streets of the capital, and in dozens of regions of the country are going out massively, emotionally expressing their protest against the unfair elections. However, I would remark that, had these elections been fair, a LEFTIST majority would have been formed in the Duma, [so] the political realities would not have gotten any sweeter for Mr. Saakashvili.”
    Well said, Comrade Melnikov!

    • alexander mercouris says:

      Dear Yalensis,

      Melnikov has impressed me for some time as a very clever man.

      By the way the Communist Party released a declaration today, which stripped of its verbiage made clear that it would have no truck with an “Orange Revolution” scenario. I gather that Yavlinsky has said much the same.

      • Good! Without even Yavlinsky willing to storm the ramparts, that leaves only approximately 1000 Navalny-ites to complete the entire Color Revolution by themselves. Every revolution needs a marching song, so I composed one for them – this is completely my own creation, so I hope nobody accuses me of plagiarism:

        Allons HAMSTERS de la patrie,
        Le jour de gloire est arrivé !
        Contre nous de la tyrannie
        L’étendard sanglant est levé ! (bis)
        Entendez-vous dans les campagnes,
        Mugir ce féroce PUTIN ?
        Il vient jusque dans nos bras
        Égorger nos fils, nos compagnes !

        Aux armes, HOMIACHKI!
        Formez vos bataillons !
        Marchons ! Marchons !
        Qu’un sang impur
        Abreuve nos sillons !

  16. alexander mercouris says:

    Novosti or perhaps the Interior Ministry is also calculating the total number of protesters across the whole of Russia at around 60,000, which is the estimate I gave before.

  17. I found this New York Times piece while scavenging through INOSMI.
    2 points of interest:
    Quote from Nemtstov: “They showed me on Channel 1 and said I was an opposition leader, which is already a breakthrough,” said Boris Y. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister in the 1990s who has not been shown on government-controlled television, save for perhaps in court or handcuffs, for perhaps a decade. “They’re already calling me from Washington and asking what’s going on.”
    Question: Who is calling Nemtsov from Washington? Could it be … his boss, Hillary Clinton ??
    (2) The implication that Churov might be used as a scapegoat:

    The three main government-controlled channels each led their evening broadcasts on Saturday with reports about the protests. They showed the huge crowds and their anti-Kremlin posters. In interviews, people at the rallies complained about their votes having been stolen and expressed their desire for new elections. Each of the channels also broadcast calls for the ouster of Vladimir Y. Churov, the leader of Russia’s Central Election Commission, an ominous signal about his future employment.

    This possibly fits in with my own “suggestion” that government could fire somebody as a scapegoat and then make a couple of adjustments to the vote in order to satisfy the main opposition parties. They could put it all on Churov, he seems like a convenient scapegoat. Okay, let me go on the record and predict that this will happen.

  18. Игорь Фёдорович Стравинский says:

    Putin has built himself a billion dollar home that would rival any of the Tsars’ excesses. Only in Russia does such blatant corruption receive a shrug of the shoulders. What funds is a mere politician using to build a billion dollar residence? Putin is a little man with a Napoleon complex with stage managed photo-ops of sham derring-do. Russians through their vodka glasses are satisfied with this KGB corruptocrat’s posturing and trouble making for the United States in retaliation for Reagan’s role in triggering the collapse of the evil USSR empire. Putin’s rivals for power and honest investigative journalists are imprisoned or assassinated, including abroad. He is just the latest in a long unbroken string of autocrats (Gorbachev’s and Yeltsin’s brief stints were a hiccup in Russian history). Russians neither crave freedom nor know what to do with it. They will eat sawdust as long as everyone else around them must eat it too (except for their control freak oligarchy of course). Russians are the biggest underachievers of the white race except when it comes to barbarism against their fellow man. Not every people would set up and consent to making their entire country an armed camp for decades with gulag hellholes for the recalcitrant

    • Игорь Фёдорович Стравинский says:

      I doubt Putin is either glad of these demonstrations or cowering in fear of them and counting the hours until his departure for Switzerland. If the Russian people wanted clean representative government, they could have it; for that matter, if they wanted to be proud, free citizens of the wealthiest nation on earth, they could do that, too. A few do, indeed, want self-governance, and would work long and hard to bring Russia into the modern age; the vast majority of Russians, however, are either indifferent or deeply sceptical of such western notions. Russia spent its first 1,000 years under home-grown autocrats, Mongol autocrats, and the increasingly dull-witted Romanov autocrats. All that was followed by 70 years of even worse communist autocracy. They have no tradition of individual rights, nor any very favourable impression of western ideas and ideals. The problem Russians see isn’t that Putin and his cronies are corrupt, but simply that they’re too corrupt. Russians want a Russian answer, not an imported answer.

  19. Oh noes, the drivel spambot is back.

    The Putin palace claim is one of the most inane of all time.

  20. Леони́д Ильи́ч Бре́жнев says:

    AK edit: Indeed, Jennifer. As usual, I’m deleting the copy-pastes.

    • Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky, Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev … AK, I think this forum’s being attacked by poltergeists. Maybe Svetlana Peters might pay us a visit!