Baku, January 11 – More than half of the registered voters in Ingushetia have signed declarations that they did not take part in the December 2 elections, despite claims by the pro-Kremlin leadership there that 98 percent of the electorate voted and almost as high a percentage cast their ballots for President Putin’s United Russia Party.
This is thus the clearest and most definitive evidence yet of electoral fraud during that tally that most independent observers were confident had taken place, although this new information does not indicate whether the fraud was perpetrated on the Kremlin’s order or by regional subordinates keen to demonstrate their enthusiastic support for Putin.
And because this action is attracting the attention of Moscow newspapers and other media outlets, it is entirely possible that democracy activists in other parts of the Russian Federation where improbable participation rates were reported will copy what the Ingush have done.
On Wednesday night, Ingushetia.ru reported that organizers of the “I Didn’t Vote!” campaign in that republic had collected 87,340 declarations from Ingushetia residents over the age of 18 asserting that they did not take part in the December elections for the Russian Federation State Duma (http://www.ingushetiya.ru/news/12820.html).
Even if some of these declarations are themselves problematic, the vast number of them – 54.5. percent of the total number of those registered to vote there – provides convincing evidence that Ingush President Murat Zyazikov and his associates were stretching the truth when they reported that 98 percent of the electorate had taken part.
And the actual number of those not taking part in that December vote almost certainly was even greater than the “I Didn’t Vote!” campaign has found. Its organizers note that they have not yet visited some 24 villages and towns and are considering whether to continue their signature gathering for a few more days.
The signed declarations have been put into 290 volumes that are now in the hands of Moscow lawyers who plan to transmit them to the Procurator General of the Russian Federation with a request that the election results from Ingushetia at least be reviewed and possibly overturned.
Reporting of this kind is the reason for the continuing efforts by Zyazikov and Moscow to close down the independent-minded Ingushetia.ru site. Having failed to do so through pressure on the local ISP provider, redirection of visitors to porno sites, and threats on the life of the site owner’s father, this week the authorities did something new.
They overloaded the site’s popular forums with material so radical that its posting would certainly subject the site’s current owners to charges of extremism and thus forced them to restrict access to the forums to registered users lest such posts become the basis for officials to shut down the site itself (http://www.ingushetiya.ru/news/12813.html).