Russian elections

Неужели? Или как всегда…

This photo is from the Wall Street Journal (December 27, 2011).  It appears that thousands of people gathered in central Moscow on December 24, 2011.  There would be nothing unusual about a large crowd, if not for the fact that it was a demonstration against the rigged election, which by itself is not an unusual occurrence in Russia.  But Russian ‘usual’ and ‘unusual’ do not always obey the conventional Western definition.

However, it would not be unusual that Putin’s position strengthens if he is elected in March because the victory would mean that he managed to convince a sizeable and outspoken opposition.  Then he really must be the right guy for Russia! :-)  Putin’s victory after this exercise in democracy would also silence the West.  I am in no way denying that there exists a real opposition to Putin’s government in Russia and that many people joined protests by free will.  Prokhorov, of course, is a hoax, unless he is Medvedev II.  Just my two kopeks in…

I recommend reading David Satter’s opinion piece on these recent protests.  One of his other, very much worth reading, works on Russia is Darkness at Dawn.

The Russian elections in 2008 were commented by a LiveJournal blogger, Podmoskovnik.  I highly recommend reading Podmoskovnik’s blog.  There you can find stats and discussion of non-Gaussian distribution (distribution that is not bell-shaped, but is expected to be) of votes in past and recent elections.  Podmoskovnik cleverly called this ‘Churov distribution’ (дистрибуция Чурова) after the Chairman of the Election Committee.  Here is an example of a graph from this blog (December 2011).

If I remember right, one commentary in 2008 said:  “Подмосковник, пакуй чемоданы.”  Но Подмосковник пишет и ныне, хотя, впрочем, и выборы идут своим чередом.  Как всегда в России…

Novaya gazeta (in Russian) reported how local administrations were preparing for elections.  This article from November 9, 2011 provides a document titled “Instruction.”

The ‘instruction’ presented a schedule and rules of conduct for a group of citizens from a suburban town of Kirovsk.  These lucky citizens were supposed to be taken on a tour of St. Petersburg, coincidentally, on the day of elections.  They were to be fed breakfast after visiting 5 ‘sightseeing spots‘ and fed dinner after visiting another 8.  The instruction prohibited them from participating in any exit polls (!!!!).  Naturally, it is St. Petersburg museums and art galleries, not polling places that have exit polls ;-).  (Certain loopholes in the Russian law permit the same person to vote at multiple locations in the same election.)  The citizens were also promised some financial compensation at the end of their busy day.  What more to say?


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