List Of Estimates On Fraud In Russia’s 2011 Duma Elections

Despite Olga Kryshtanovskaya’s disapproval, I thought it would be interesting and useful to compile a comprehensive list of blogger, pundit and “expert” opinions on the extent of fraud in the 2011 Duma elections. Interspersed among these opinions and analyses are results from federal opinion polls and other evidence.

In general, it seems we can identify three “theses” or “clubs.” The 0% Club holds the idea that falsifications were non-existent or minimal; it is advanced by Kremlin officials and supported by many opinion polls. Its polar opposite is the 15% Club, which is supported by several statistical analyses; its adherents include the liberal and non-systemic opposition. The 5% Club argues that United Russia should not have gotten a Duma majority, but many of their proponents believe that the elections are legitimate nonetheless. Estimates range from 2% to 10%, with a wealth of opinion polling and statistical analysis in support. Most of the systemic opposition and arguably most Russians belong to this club.

The 0% Club (<2% fraud)

* PRE-ELECTIONS POLLS: Levada (53%), VCIOM (53.7%), and ISI (49.6%all gave United Russia more than its official result. However, because of the relative passivity of United Russia’s electorate – its supporters are less like to vote – raw polling numbers almost certainly overstate its real results.
* OFFICIAL RESULT: United Russia has 49.32% according to the Central Elections Commission of the Russian Federation. This gives it a mandate of 238 seats in the Duma.
* OFFICIAL OPINION: Vladimir Churov, the Chairman of the CEC, has argued fraud is minimal in Russian elections and considers these to be the best conducted elections in the past 20 years. His arguments are based on a suspiciously small sample of just 25 regions where there is reason to suspect fraud was low.
EXIT POLL: State pollster VCIOM gave United Russia 48.5%, within its 2% margin of error. They covered 62 regions, 1764 stations, and 250,000 voters.
* POST-ELECTIONS POLL: Independent pollster Levada reports 48% responding they voted for United Russia, within its 3.4% margin of error.
* Mark Sleboda, a Eurasianist thinker, thinks fraud was at about 2% but benefited all parties equally.
* OFFICIAL OPINION: Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman: “Even if you add up all this so-called evidence, it accounts for just over 0.5% of the total number of votes.”

The 5% Club (2%-10% fraud)

* LOSS OF DUMA MAJORITY: United Russia falls below 225 seats in the Duma once its result dips below 46.4%, meaning that fraud of 3% or more starts having a significant impact on the political balance.
* Gordon Hahn, a Russia analyst estimates 3% fraud: “In reality [United Russia got] 46%. More distortion from media control and pressured and voluntary collective voting in the nationally, especially titular Mulsim republics.”
* Andrei Liakhov, lawyer and Russia politics watcher, thinks 3%-4%.
* Patrick Armstrong, a Russia analyst estimates “less than 5%because “opinion polls rule!”
* @grafomonka thinks it’s around 5% thanks to “fraud in Moscow & ethnic republics.”
* CROWD WISDOM?: In a post-elections Levada poll, a simple majority of Muscovites believed that either fraud was minor and would only have knocked back United Russia by a couple of percentage points or that it was serious and should have lost United Russia its majority. So their average viewpoint on fraud at the federal level seems to be around 5%.
* Readers of this blog, on average, also support the 5% Thesis.
* The KPRF gave 5.4% less to United Russia in a parallel count of CEC protocols during the 2007 Duma elections; may be of relevance as vote rigging appears to have been comparable between now and then.
* Mark Galeotti, a Russian crime analystestimatesmaybe 5% but not evenly distributed”, with the caveat that it doesn’t include possible cases of coerced voting.
* Andy Young, a Russia bloggerestimates at least 2.5% from the Caucasus alone, so I’m grouping him with Toth-Czifra whom he inspired.
* Andras Toth-Czifra, a Russia bloggerestimates 5-6% fraud using Young’s method for the entire country.
* Mark Adomanis, a “Russia hand”guesses 5-6% with “huge regional variations.”
* hist_kai, a programmer blogger, estimates 5-7% fraud using statistical analysis.
* EXPERT ANALYSIS: Sergey Zhuravlev estimates 5-6% fraud using statistical analysis. This approach has methodological flaws.
* THIS BLOG’S AUTHOR: Anatoly Karlin estimates “the aggregate level of falsifications is probably at around 5%, and almost certainly less than ten per cent.”
* Nils van der Vegte, Russia blogger, says “I would support ur claims master :P.”
* EXIT POLL: State pollster FOM gave United Russia 43.1%, implying possible fraud of 6.2%. They covered 80 regions, 800 stations, and 80,000 voters.
* EXPERT ANALYSIS: A study by Samarcand Analytics (Alex Mellnik, John Mellnik and Nikolay Zhelev) estimates 6.6% fraud using statistical analysis.
* Joera Mulders, a “Russia watcher”argues that the “questionable percentage of votes received by United Russia is about 5%-10%.”
* William Partlett, Russia analyst, estimates 5%-10%.
* @biznesslanch makes a “reasonable guesstimate” of 5%-10% in “most places.”
* Juha Savolainen guesses 7%.
* EXPERT OPINION: Aleksandr Kireev, a prominent Russia elections analyst, estimates 8-9% fraud. He also built a map of fraud estimates by region.
* Ani Wandaryan’s “wild guess” is that there was 8%-10%, not including coerced voting.
* LOSS OF LEGITIMACY: Once fraud begins to exceed 10%, is it fair to say that the Duma ceases reflecting the will of its electorate?

The 15% Club (10%+ fraud)

* Max Sjöblom, a Russia bloggerthinks “about 10%.”
* Sean Guillory, a Russia bloggerthinks 10% fraud (or that it is “closer to” 10%-15% than to 5%).
* Nina Ivanovovna, a Russia bloggerthinks 10% or “a little more.”
* EXPERT ANALYSIS: Dmitry Kobak, a programmer, estimates 11% fraud using statistical analysis. But his key assumptions are questionableHe also built a map of fraud estimates by region.
* Alexey Sidorenko, Runet analystthinks “between 10-13 mln votes” were stolen, which translates to 9%-13% fraud.
* EXIT POLL: ISI gave United Russia 38.1%, implying possibly fraud of 11.2% but it is constrained by a low sample. They covered 24 regions, 81 stations, and 2562 voters.
* BACK TO 2003: Fraud of greater than 12% would mean that United Russia should get 37% or less and hence fewer Duma seats than in 2003.
NON-SYSTEMIC OPPOSITION LEADER: Boris Nemtsov claims 13 million votes were stolen, or about 12.5% fraud.
* MACHINE DISCREPANCY: The difference between machine ballots and the overall result for United Russia is 12.8% as calculated by Sergey Shpilkin, only counting regions that have machines. This approach has methodological flaws.
* Gregory White and Rob Barry, writing for the Wall Street Journal, say irregularities “cast doubt” over “as many of 14 million” votes, or about 14% fraud.
* OBSERVERS: The site RuElect, a site that collects election protocols, tallies 34.75% for United Russia (as of 12/28), implying possible fraud of 14.6%. Possible problem: are not observers likelier to send it protocols that don’t match official results?
* EXPERT OPINION: Aleksandr Shen’, a prominent Russia elections analystgives United Russia a range of 30%-40%, translation into 9%-19% fraud.
* EXPERT ANALYSIS: Sergey Shpilkin, veteran Russia elections analyst, estimates 15.6% fraud using statistical analysis. But his key assumptions are questionable.
* Fabian Burkhardt agrees with Sergey Shpilkin’s 15.6% estimate.
* Andrei Piontkovsky, an opposition activist writing for the Wall Street Journal, claims 15-20% fraud.
* Grigory Yavlinsky, a Yabloko leader and Presidential candidate, claims 20%-25% fraud.
* Garry Kasparov, an opposition activist, claims fraud of up to 25%.
* MINSK STATION: The discrepancy between pre-elections polls and the official result of the 2010 Belarus Presidential elections suggested 40%-45% fraud. This is what an unambiguously fraudulent election looks like.
* @Pistorasia thinks it’s from 80%-99%.

Fraud In Moscow

As Moscow is generally suspected to have experienced greater fraud than the federal average, and has hosted most of Russia’s protesters, it would be appropriate to create a separate section for the capital.

OFFICIAL RESULT: United Russia has 46.6% according to the Central Elections Commission of the Russian Federation.
* EXPERT ANALYSIS: Aleksandr Zhuravlev estimates minimal fraud in Moscow using statistical analysis. This approach has methodological flaws.
* OBSERVERS: Examination of observer protocols from stations serving 10% of Moscow’s electorate reveals a 3% discrepancy between the official results.
* CROWD WISDOM?: In a post-elections Levada poll, on average Muscovites estimated that United Russia’s real score was 35% in the capital, implying possible fraud of 12%. By party affiliation, these estimates were: United Russia – 45%; Fair Russia – 34%; KPRF and LDPR – 30%; Yabloko – 26%.
* OBSERVERS: The site RuElect, a site that collects election protocols, tallies 33.04% for United Russia (as of 12/28), implying possible fraud of 13.6%.
* POST-ELECTIONS POLL: In a post-elections Levada poll 32% Muscovites said they voted for United Russia (with a 4.3% margin of error), implying possible fraud of 15%.
* BACK IN 2009. The difference between the average of two post-elections Levada polls (46.1%; 54.5%) and United Russia’s official tally (66.3%) in the 2009 Moscow Duma elections was 16.0%. But also note that in a Levada pre-elections poll 59.3% said they intended to vote for United Russia, a difference of 7.0%. That said, it’s worth noting that Moscow communists report the numbers of complaints were an “order of magnitude” less now than in the 2009 Moscow Duma elections. 
OBSERVERS: The “Citizen Observer” initiative points out Moscow polling stations where no major irregularities were observed reported 30.3% for United Russia, implying possible fraud of 16.3%. Stations where no irregularities at all were observed reported 23.4% for United Russia, implying possible fraud of 23.2%Criteria by which stations were chosen to be monitored not stated. 
* MACHINE DISCREPANCY: The difference between machine and hand ballots for United Russia is 16.6% as calculated by Aleksandr Kireev, by comparing regions with machine voting and those without. Similar results are obtained by Maxim Pshenichnikov, Dmitry Kobak, and Dmitry Oreshkin.
* EXIT POLL: ISI gave United Russia 27.6%, implying possible fraud of 19%. But as noted above, it is constrained by a low sample; note they gave 49.3% for United Russia in St.-Petersburg, where its real result was 33.5%.
* EXIT POLL: State pollster FOM gave United Russia 23.5%, implying possible fraud of 23.1%.

The Moscow Protests

How many people turned up to the Meetings For Fair Elections at Bolotnaya (Dec 10) and Prospekt Sakharova (Dec 24)? Police estimates converge around 20k-30k; the organizers tend to throw up figures from 120k-200k. As both have a dog in the fight, I prefer to trust the geodesic engineer Nikolai Pomeshchenko, who estimated 60,000 at Bolotnaya and 56,000+ at Prospekt Sakharova. As he acknowledges the latter to be an understatement, let’s assume it to be perhaps 80,000. (Novaya Gazeta claims at least 102,000, but they only counted people going in, not those going out early).

According to a Levada poll of the protesters at Prospekt Sakharova, 56% claimed to have attended the Bolotnaya rally. If this is accurate, attendance at Prospekt Sakharova could not have been massively larger – i.e., by the commonly cited factor of two – than attendance at Bolotnaya (obviously, not everyone who went to Bolotnaya was able to or willing to go to Prospekt Sakharova). This implies that it is mostly the same people attending the protests. I suspect that with two weeks of preparation and advertising, the original Bolotnaya “hard core” had the opportunity to agitate some of their social network friends into going. That attendance was only marginally higher at the second Meeting would appear to indicate that “revolutionary momentum” is not building up. Navalny promised one million protesters for the third Meeting next February, so we’ll wait and see.

UPDATE: According to Pomeshchenko, there were 62,000 at the Bolotnaya II meeting (Feb 4), which is also in line with opinion polls. He also estimated 80,000 at the Anti-Orange Meeting at Poklonnaya  (Feb 4). RIA Novosti estimated 53,600 for Bolotnaya and 117,600 for Poklonnaya.

Further Reading

My best articles on election fraud in Russia:

One of the most comprehensive summaries of the statistical evidence for Russian election fraud is Выборы и статистика: казус «Единой России» (2009, 2011) by Aleksandr Shen’.


  1. Please feel free to leave your own estimates of fraud in the comments.
    Those from established S/O commentators will be added to the list in this blog post.

  2. Alexander Mercouris says:

    Dear Anatoly,

    I am going to do a pass on this one. I think there was some significant fraud but not enough to invalidate the whole result but any view I take would be so unscientific as to be evidentially worthless.

  3. Wait a minute……

    “* EXIT POLL: VCIOM gave United Russia 48.5%, within its 2% margin of error. They covered 62 regions, 1764 stations, and 250,000 voters.”

    “* EXIT POLL: FOM gave United Russia 43.1%, implying possible fraud of 6.2%. They covered 80 regions, 800 stations, and 80,000 voters.”

    “* EXIT POLL: ISI gave United Russia 38.1%, implying possibly fraud of 11.2% but it is constrained by a low sample. They covered 24 regions, 81 stations, and 2562 voters.”

    So in reality the exit poll that the western MSM originally latched on to in order to claim massive (massive!!) fraud (as trademarked on another blog) was the one that didn’t even cover 3,000 voters? How can the ISI poll even be considered remotely credible when on average they sampled 31 voters per station and sampled only a fraction of the the number used in the next largest exit poll?

    It is very interesting to note though that among the exit polls, those that sampled more voters found more support for United Russia and generally gave results closer to that of the official results.

    It would be nice to know which regions were sampled for all the polls (for instance ISI’s 24 regions might include a lot where UR isn’t very popular) and to know if voters were sampled more than once across the various polls (if not then the possibility exists for roughly combining the poll results to get a theoretical “super poll”).

    • I agree completely and that’s why whenever I cited the ISI exit poll I’ve stressed that it’s unreliable compared to the other two.

      • This is exactly why it shouldn’t have been mentioned at all.
        2,500 voters in a 145 million country is NOTHING to base ANYTHING.

        And yet because it’s there. the numbers are floated as a resemblance of reality.

        Take it out!!

    • These are the only objective measures we have and none of them support 15% or higher fraud. It looks like FOM is taking the most accurate national scan due to its regional coverage. But FOM is the one that leads to the most egregious vote fraud claims for Moscow. I would say VCIOM is to be believed more than FOM in the regions where they overlap due to the much larger sampling. Moscow would be one of those regions, but I can’t find any VCIOM breakdown by region.

      But one can infer something from the national aggregate from FOM and VCIOM. The Moscow vote is dragging down the national average for FOM but not for VCIOM. So my conclusion would be that there was no 20% fraud in Moscow. Of course, you can dismiss VCIOM as being a tool of dictator Putin (LOL) but then moving goal posts is for losers 🙂 So the most likely is the 3% from all of the ethnic republics. I am not sure what their motive is.

      • It’s suspected that the ethnic republics have been falsifying in favor of the party of power since at least 1996. Possible explanations include a desire to prove their loyalty and in so doing attract more federal subsidies, tax exceptions, freedom from more direct Kremlin oversight, etc.

        • In addition to whatever motives, ethnic republics simply have more ABILITY to falsify because of more authoritarian/paternalistic power structures, etc. Local poobah has the power to say “Go do this”, and his minions just go and do it, no questions asked.

  4. What amount of electoral fraud is permitted by the constitution of RF? Is it 3 – 10 %? I mean, Putin promised a long time ago that under his rule there shall be a “dictatorship of law”.

    • I’d like to a see an objective quantification of vote fraud in Canada and the USA. It ain’t 0%. In fact, the first past the post system gives a lot of incentive for fraud since you take the whole riding/district even if you don’t get a popular majority. All you need is to get one vote more than the candidate right behind you in the ranks. And exit polls won’t do a lot to uncover such fraud since the winner does not need a majority. A few fixed ballots is all you need.

      I think that the current Harper regime in Canada is the product of such fraud. There is no way this dictator wannabe who prorogued parliament twice for petty personal reasons (to quash an investigation into torture in Afghanistan was one of those), an act unprecedented in Canadian history, sent out the goon squads to quash (really quash, not “Duma elections” “quash”) the G8/G20 demonstrators (1000 rounded up, bound and left to sit in the open like some eastern front German POW concentration camp during WWII, in addition to brutal beatings by police) and blew over one billion dollars for pork in Tony Clement’s riding would have gotten a majority during the last election. Ignatieff’s nerd factor is a joke excuse. Harper’s piano sessions can’t explain the results. Also, the Liberals lost power in 2006 because of the Gomery inquiry about some waste of cash (about 300 million for “adscam”) in Quebec during the 1995 referendum on secession. But somehow wasting over a billion dollars in Muskoka for basically nothing (i.e. not saving the country or anything, just lining private pockets) was a total non-issue. Yeah, right.

      • I agree that fraud isn’t at 0% in either Canada or the US, that kind of perfection is simply out of reach except perhaps in a country like Iceland. But I’d be very surprised if it’s over 1% on the other hand. And crucially, at least in the US, the benefits appear to accrue to both parties equally; whereas in Russia perhaps 90% or more accrue to the party of power.

        “Legalized fraud” (just like “legalized corruption”, i.e. lobbying), like the effects from gerrymandering and caging, may well reach 1% or 2% at the federal level in the US. But even so it would still probably be far smaller in scale to the usage of “administrative resources” (i.e. “legalized fraud” à la russe) to increase turnout that overwhelmingly benefits United Russia.

        • I agree that the Russian electoral process is flawed. But I am not so sure that the “party of power” wields the power you describe. If we are going to use the Moscow exit polls as evidence of abuse, then we have to do the same for St. Petersburg. But there you have the “party of power” at the receiving end of potential fraud. UR is not PRI and it may well be a second party by 2013 Duma elections.

      • Ignatieff’s nerd factor should not be downplayed, but that was only part of his unappealing dislikability. He was successfully portrayed as a closet American, and that’s because he did spend most of his adult life there and has strong ties to the United States. While it’s quite true Harper is more like an American conservative in his policies, I figured if we’re going to contract out the position of Prime Minister to a foreigner, we might as well pick one of the Australian ski instructors from Mount Washington; at least they know how to have a good time.

        I don’t doubt there is some fraud in Canadian elections, we’re not perfect. But I voted Conservative for only the second time in my life, because my Liberal candidate retired and was replaced by a ditzy woman whose campaign consisted of standing at the roadside holding an “Elect Me” sign and waving to passersby. And it was a startling fact that the once-powerful Liberal party was not just humiliated or taught a sharp lesson – it was decimated, annihilated – blown off the board. The unreality of their destruction was encapsulated in Ignatieff’s announcement that he intended to stay on as party leader; a notion of which his aides quickly disabused him.

        Voters fled from the Liberals as if they smelled plague on the wind. I have no way of knowing how often my own experience was repeated, and the party over-confidently ran weak candidates in other ridings, but it was a slaughter. Jack Layton’s New Democrats benefited beyond his wildest dreams, but at bottom, that’s where Stephen Harper’s majority came from. Furious Liberals who chose representation by the enemy rather than no representation at all.

        • Mark,

          If you want a foreigner to run your country and have a good time, we Australians are happy to offer Kevin Rudd whose CV includes being Prime Minister from 2008 to mid-2010 when he was dumped by the Australian Labor Party, possibly with the connivance of the mining industry here and Washington DC. He knows how to have a good time as he was once sprung visiting a lap-dancing club (in spite of his reputation as a geek) and he jets around the world a lot. As current Foreign Minister he is expected to do that but even as Prime Minister he travelled overseas a great deal and gave the impression he spent more time away from Australia than in the country.

          Rudd wavers between social-democratic and economic liberalism in his views depending on the public mood so he is probably much the same as the centrist and right-wing factions of the Australian Labor Party and he would more or less synchronise with the Canadian Liberals and many Tories in their views. I believe he was deposed as Washington DC required a more compliant satrap, someone less “pro-active” and calling attention to China’s military power and human rights abuses, and Julia Gillard fit the bill. It is mysterious that within half an hour of being tossed out, Rudd received a telephone call from Barack Obama offering condolences and a job!

          As Prime Minister, he would enjoy travelling all over Canada as it’s a much bigger and more sprawling country than Australia (all those islands up near the North Pole) and you have your French culture in Quebec and Scottish culture in the eastern provinces. I am sure Julia Gillard will be too happy to offer him to you!

          • Do you know, I once rather fancied Kevin Rudd – purely in a political way, of course: back in ’07, when he looked like having a good chance to beat John Howard, whom I absolutely loathed. But that didn’t happen. Probably John Howard could teach the Moscow protesters a thing or two about electorate manipulation and media control. But enough Australians must have liked him, if he kept getting re-elected, and in the end it’s only Australians’ business.

            Anyway, please pass along to Mr. Rudd that I will keep his resume on file, but my hands are tied at the moment because I have a standing offer with the Republican party of the United States – and we are currently in negotiations – to swap Barack Obama for Stephen Harper. I believe I hit all Mr. Harper’s high points vis-a-vis conservative appeal: economics-savvy, loves Israel as much as humanly possible for someone who is not Jewish (or pretends to), worships the free market (although I must give him his due for resisting the urge to deregulate the financial industry like the USA did, thereby dodging being crushed when it all came tumbling down), and he is as white as the driven snow. Well, that’s just a figure of speech; white people are actually pink. But you know what I mean – he’s not black like Obama. We tend to be a little more relaxed about that kind of thing than Republicans are, and I think Mr. Obama’s leadership chops would benefit from starting over in a somewhat more forgiving environment. The Republicans are definitely interested in getting shut of Obama, but the whole situation was rendered rather delicate by all their squawking about Obama being born in Kenya. That sort of drew a line in the sand about the President being American-born, and Mr. Harper was not. I think their strategy is to slip him into the chair late on Friday afternoon, and hope the dullards in the electorate will not notice anything amiss on Monday.

            But if that deal falls through, Mr. Rudd is definitely on the radar.

  5. Sadly, we see this all the time; I remember doing a post some time ago on the incidence of job applicants offering fake college or university degrees in order to get good jobs or, once established in a job (this was in Russia, engineers at a Sukhoi aircraft assembly plant) to get pay raises. I don’t have the link any more, it originally came from a story in the Moscow Times; anyway, responding to the question on how widespread diploma fraud was in Russia, one source said one in three, one said a third (same thing) and one said 50%. Care to guess which was the figure quoted? That’s right; fifty percent. In the paragraph preceding, the author reported, “These schemes almost always go unnoticed”. Whew! Well, if you already know the incidence of fakery is 50%, and you almost never catch the phony-degree trick – then I guess the incidence of fraud must be up around, what, 110% or so? More?

    Western reporting is full of sanctimonious blowhards who just basically pull their figures out of their asses (watch you don’t use that phrase on “Dying Russia”; you’ll get banned for profanity – fortunately, Anatoly is more tolerant of my filthy mouth) and dismiss any request for specifics or sourcing with a cavalier, “Oh, everybody knows that”.

    Election fraud in the past Duma elections was not a significant contributor to the current distribution of power. It is simply being seized on as such in an attempt to de-legitimize the upcoming presidential election, because it is the last opportunity for some time to come to derail the Putin train, and his intention to build up the military is well known. Be careful what you wish for, western meddlers, because the Communists are the most likely beneficiaries of a full-court press against Putin. And the Communists would be likely to put even more money into military modernization. Perhaps the west feels that’d be an acceptable risk. I happen to disagree.

    • Mark, do you want to make your own estimate of fraud for insertion into this post? (If so, please just give a % figure or range and keep any comments short).

      • No, thanks, I think the others have covered the waterfront pretty effectively already. I’m with the group that says “less than 5%”. But the percentage of fraud – as long as it actually is quite low – is less important than the silly perception that things might have been different if there was no fraud at all. United Russia would still have won, they just would have had a few more seats. While I maintain the level of fraud was well under the hysteria threshold, the vote would not have been a game-changer even if there were twice as much fraud. The notion that United Russia would have gone down for the count this time if they hadn’t cheated would be ludicrous were it not so predictable. Meanwhile, the KPRF made out like bandits – doesn’t the Russophobe noise machine find that suspicious and alarming?

        • “..the vote would not have been a game-changer ”
          – not exactly the game changer, but it would the beginning of properly functioning representative government, What I don’t understand is what was so scary about it, that somebody 🙂 thought that the things needed to be “helped” ?

          And KPRF’s problem is exactly the same as they had before the perestroika – the idiot leader and actually apathetic “followers” who did not want to sit down and think why they are in this party and not another and prefer to simply follow the routine they followed for years.

          • I completely agree there is nothing scary about properly functioning representative government, and I daresay the list of countries that wish they had it is long. However, I also agree with those who suggest Putin is not personally responsible for any of whatever fraud there might have been in the Duma elections, although he’s the one who’s paying the consequences.

            Also, the “what’s so scary?” approach is the same as that used by those arguing the elections should be re-run. United Russia would still win, obviously, they say; what’s so scary? But you know and I know, from two very recent examples, that if Russia were maneuvered into a re-do on the elections, it would embolden the protesters with success and the upcoming presidential elections would dissolve into a mush of shouting and recrimination. Who wants that to happen – westerners, or Russians? Who would that benefit – Russia, or the west?

            • “,,embolden the protesters with success .. dissolve into a mush of shouting and recrimination.”
              IMHO – these are not the type of protesters. They are not “for” a specific program or party nor even really against any – they object to be treated like idiots. Which also means that the party responsible for this “treatment” lost the trust. It cannot be trusted to single-handedly govern the country anymore. And it should not. Eugene (Ivanov’s Report) suggested to run the new Duma elections in a year – this with some immediate steps – like promised elections of Governors might let the steam out for March. After that the new President will have to learn how to work with public opinion in Duma’s form – without artillery.

              And who benefits? As long as Russia has a fully & demonstrably functional military, IMHO the Russians win more. What is happening is not exactly a revolution – it is just a normal “democratic” process.

              • The thing about re-running the elections is that it WON’T actually let the steam out of the demonstrators except for a short while. The election would be re-run and what would happen? Well there would still be some fraud of course in the Caucasus unless they plan to switch around the entire governing apparatus and election apparatus just for the election (so bringing in election observers and election officials from Vladivostok for instance and moving the North Ossetia observers and official to Vladivostok). Can’t see them being able to do that and it would probably only stir up local resentment. There would probably still be fraud even in Moscow and other places though it might be lower with the installation of cameras and so on. I would expect that there would still be fraud because fraud occurs in most elections, even in Western countries (and with first-past-the-post fraud can be had by shifting loyal voters from one electoral district to another via the process of registration – so a committed Party A supporter in a district that is super safe can then be registered in a neighbouring district which is not safe by providing a false address or claiming that this supporter now rents a room in a house in that district and presto the supporter can now vote in that district for his Party’s candidate even though he doesn’t actually reside there).

                So as with just about every other election in the world there would still be fraud and so the demonstrators would come out again. More importantly though the demonstrators that will have the most fire in their bellies and are likely to come out regardless of the result would be the real liberal demonstrators who are likely to refuse to believe ANY result that doesn’t have the real liberals actually making massive gains. I can’t remember the blog that this was mentioned on, however the author of the blog pointed out that some real liberals seem to have cocooned themselves off to the point where they actually believe that they are the majority (so he would hear some saying that “everybody they know voted for” a liberal party – which is quite natural if everybody they keep company with and who would offer to tell them how they voted is also a liberal).

                Wasting lots of time and money to re-run an election only to see much of the same people demonstrating is crazy. The best course of action would be to investigate all allegations of fraud and simply invalidate any fraudulent votes and punish any officials found to have facilitated or been involved in fraud. It wastes less time and money and achieves a similar result. Only if there was proof that the government from the very top (Medvedev and Putin through to every lower level official in government) had sanctioned and were involved in any fraud then should the election actually be re-run.

              • Hunter,
                “..The best course of action would be to investigate all allegations of fraud ..”
                It will look like that

                an interesting post-election site

  6. alexander mercouris says:

    Dear Hunter,

    A thorough and astute comment with which I totally agree.

    I would add that demands for a re run of the elections are demands for a return to crisis and for political destabilisation, which is why the people who are most insistent in making them are those who have no hope of obtaining power in any other way.

  7. Jeremy Putley says:
  8. Commenters may like to read this article comparing the conduct of Russian and American elections in recent years by Stephen Lendman:

    Is it no surprise to learn that Washington DC may have infiltrated street protests in Russia? The pattern of protesting seems suspiciously similar to the protesting that occurred after Iranian presidential elections in 2009. In those elections, the majority of the population voted for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and pre-polling by the Washington Post across the country indicated that he would win comfortably with a two-thirds majority.

    Lendman doesn’t mention OTPOR!, the Serbian resistance movement that formed to oust Milosevic in Serbia and which merged with the current ruling party in that country but it wouldn’t surprise me if some of the minor opposition parties have had contacts with ex-OTPOR! members and received foreign money.

    • Hi, Jennifer, Navalny’s connection to OTPOR might be somewhat indirect, but it is there. He (Navalny) is a Fellow of the Yale University World Fellows Program and spent a semester at Yale (in 2010) studying color revolution techniques. Americans bring in foreign persons and teach them the revolutionary methods developed by Gene Sharp/OTPOR.

      It is just my hunch (I obviously cannot prove it), but I suspect this program is a way of gathering together and grooming some interesting people in a “casting call” type situation to be looked over by American State Department, maybe even CIA, and figure out which ones they like and can be useful to them in future. In the course of the semester an actual recruitment might take place, just like in a spy novel, obviously in some kind of secluded place, not right there in the classroom in front of everybody.

      Here is a link to the Navalny/Yale connection:

      • This should automatically preclude Navalny from *ever* running for public office. His loyalty to Russia (not the regime, obviously) is seriously in doubt. I have never heard of some western politician going to a Chinese (as a fictional example) indoctrination camp for a semester and running for office. He would not even get on a ballot.

        • Western policy can be boiled down to, “Do as I say, not as I do”.

        • I should clarify that I have no objection to anybody, Russian or otherwise, traveling or studying abroad. I have lived and studied in more than one country myself, so I have no right to cast stones at any Student Prince thirsting for knowledge. It is just that this Yale program is particularly dodgy and reeks of CIA. I suppose it is theoretically possible that a perfectly innocent, loyal Russian could (1) be accepted into this small cohort for which there is fierce competition among international elites, (2) study the material and take from it whatever useful nuggets of information were embedded in all the B.S., (3) spend all free time sight-seeing/shopping and never have any side conversations with any shady types from U.S. government, and (4) return to Russia with broadened mind but still loyal to Russia’s basic international interests.
          Was Navalny such a Student Prince? Dubious. He obviously went there with Attitude and returned with Attitude * 10. That he returned with Instructions seems obvious from his stump speech on the 24th, in which he sneakily slipped in, and got mob to chant for, release of Khodorkovsky, when they thought they were chanting for Udaltsov. Navalny has no other possible reason to care what happens to Khodorkovsky other than the fact that this is Non-Negotiable Demand #1 of Western “democracies”. To quote Shakespeare, “What is he to Hecuba, or Hecuba to him?”

  9. What is lost in all this circus about the Duma elections in Russia, is the fact NOBODY worries about the elections in…… China.

    China is the second largest economy in the world, it has the largest international reserves, the largest creditor to the biggest bully of the world, the USA, the fastest growing economy consistently for the last 20 plus years, the country where cut throat capitalism is most intense, where people never VOTES for their leaders and yet they are scot-free from any criticism, and in fact admired.

    There is a disconnect with reality when Russia is being attacked for the way the elections were conducted and yet the USA has had the 2000 and the 2004 elections full of very questionable state and federal government actions that brought criticism from the European observers in place (they were dismissed by the Corporate Owned “mainstream Media” as unimportant).

    The US uses a wide array of voting systems and machines, but the most egregious ones are the “electronic” machines that are proven to be easily hacked, do not offer a paper-trail in order to do recounts and ALL of them are made by openly partisan Republican corporations who deny any access to their software, claiming “propietary ownership”.

    In the book “Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order” by William Engdahl, it is explained how the think tanks established by the international capital to dominate the world, never stopped the Cold War and instead went into high gear in expanding its reach as soon as the Soviet Union collapsed.
    In it explains how NGOs (non government organizations) are used by the CIA, MI6 and Mossad to infiltrate countries with the purpose to apply their foreign policy while masquerading as “democratic” organizations.
    Part of their activities is precisely come in and “teach” common people how to “assert” their “democratic” rights while in fact brainwashing them and paying them to disrupt that country’s elections to bring into power who they have already picked as their submissive puppet.
    This is what happened in Iran when Mozadeg was brought down to impose the Sha, and today’s practice is an enhancement on that productive endeavor.