Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sunday’s Elections in North Caucasus ‘Most Scandalous in Many Years,’ Chablin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 12 – Following low energy campaigns that nonetheless featured repeated violations of the law by the authorities and by the ruling United Russia Party, the elections in the various subjects of the North Caucasus Federal District were nonetheless “the most scandalous in many years,” according to Anton Chablin.

            And given how “scandalous” all earlier votes in this region of the Russian Federation, that is saying something; and this judgment reflects both the judgments of the numerous observers in the region and the work of independent activists who used video cameras to record the violations (capost.media/news/policy/vybory-v-skfo-samye-skandalnye-za-mnogie-gody/).

            There were no elections in Ingushetia and only voting on membership in two rural councils in Chechnya, but elsewhere there were numerous contests for local councils. In every republic, there were violations on election day, the commentator says; and in some, they were so blatant and blatantly denied by officials that it is hard to be optimistic about the future.

            Among the many cases Chablin cites, the following are especially noteworthy:

·        In Daghestan, no candidates for Yabloko appeared given official pressure and despite the fact that that party has been active there in the past. It may be, the commentator suggests, that the Party of Growth will now get the liberal vote there.

·         Scandals during the campaign pushed participation down in Stavropol but they did not have the same effect in Karachayevo-Cherkessia. However, in the latter cases, election observers pointed to dozens of violations during the voting making these elections there “the ‘dirtiest’ in more than a decade.” Officials kept changing the rules, deployed administrative resources, and did not allow five parties to run. But despite that, Cherkessk officials declared that there were no violations serious enough to have affected the outcome.

·         In North Ossetia, officials used old voting boxes that had holes in them large enough to stuff false ballots and that in any case were not sealed as required. Moreover, it was found that 400 voters were m oved into six districts from others and that “more than 100” were shifted from 16 districts to still a third group. That doesn’t inspire confidence if the republic gets the right to election a governor in the future.

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