CCTV footage surfaced Monday showing a Russian official stuffing a ballot box during an election in which Russian President Vladimir Putin’s party won huge gains in parliament.
The obvious vote manipulation was not unprecedented for the Sunday election. Election monitoring group Golos reported 427 reports of election fraud, but warned there was little they could do about it.
“We don’t have any way to fight it through law enforcement agencies or through courts but we fight violation through attracting public attention,” Golos official Roman Udot told BBC News.
Russia has gone after Golos in the past. Russia’s Justice Ministry decided Golos’ monitoring was “political activity” akin to spying. The group was labeled a “foreign agent,” levied with a massive fine, its leader was personally fined, and was shut down by the Justice Ministry for six months.
Putin’s party won a vast majority of seats in Russia’s parliament, which increasingly consolidated power. The big wins by Putin’s United Russia party in Sunday’s elections effectively muzzle any potential opposition by rival parties in the Russian parliament. He celebrated the victory by bringing back a monolithic security agency that mimics the KGB of Soviet Russia.
The new agency will reportedly be called the “MGB.” The MGB will consolidate both domestic and foreign intelligence operations under the same roof, along with law enforcement jurisdiction, and authority to conduct criminal organizations. MGB is ominously the same name of the centralized security system under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin from 1946-1953.
In the lead up to the elections, Russia’s Justice Ministry labeled the only independent polling agency a “foreign agent” Sept. 6, after its polls showed a dip in support for Putin’s party. The persecution of the polling group “began after we have demonstrated a drop in popularity of the United Russia,” Lev Ghudkov, chairman of the polling group, told Russian media.
Ghudkov released a poll September 1 showing an 8 percent drop in popularity for United Russia. The Justice Ministry’s label came September 6.
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