Ballot Videos Taint Russian Elections – Kelowna Capital News

In a surveillance video, a hand emerges from behind a Russian flag to put ballot papers in a box. Another one shows a woman pulling ballot papers from under her clothes and with the help of another woman, giggling, putting them in the box.

Then there is the mop being pulled up by someone to cover a camera in a room where workers were looking through documents after the polling station in southern Russia closed.

A clean choice?

Russian authorities claimed that there were fewer violations in the three days of elections for a new parliament than in the last election in 2016, but several videos and photos of incidents of electoral fraud have surfaced since Friday.

Critics argued that without the ballot manipulation, the Kremlin-backed United Russia party could not have won enough votes to maintain its super-majority in parliament, which is especially important for the next election in 2024. Then the current term of office of President Vladimir Putin expires. and he will either be expected to re-elect himself or choose another strategy to stay in power. In any case, a State Duma that the Kremlin can control would be key.

Over the weekend, election observers and opposition officials shared photos of thick, folded stacks of ballot papers in clear ballot boxes that were apparently folded into one piece. Videos from election surveillance cameras at polling stations showed people trying, with varying degrees of success, to put multiple ballot papers in boxes. There was also footage from several regions of scuffles and confrontations between poll workers and election observers trying to expose violations.

In a video released by activists of the liberal Yabloko party, which was reportedly filmed on Friday in the Siberian region of Kemerovo, a woman steps inconspicuously in front of a ballot box, blocking it from view of a camera. But behind a Russian flag next to it you can still see a hand reaching for the box. The hand enters ballots several times and the woman then walks away.

Russia’s prominent independent election observation group Golos pointed out another video showing ballot boxes being filled in the Bryansk region, which borders Belarus and Ukraine. In the video, a woman pulls out ballot papers from under her clothes. They put it in the box with another woman. Giggles can be heard on the video as pollers go about their business at their desks as if nothing had happened.

In a district in Saint Petersburg, a piece of cardboard appeared in front of a surveillance camera shortly after a man opened a safe with ballot papers that was supposed to remain sealed, the local news agency Fontanka reported and showed the video. The police are investigating the incident.

The video from the southern Stavropol region showed two election workers handling documents at polling station No. 1085 in the city of Pyatigorsk. Suddenly a mop is lifted to the lens of the surveillance camera and blocks the view of the manipulation of the ballot papers.

The incident caught the attention of the Central Electoral Commission of Russia, whose chairman, Ella Pamfilova, sacked the polling station chief.

Still, during a conference call with Putin on Monday, she insisted that the number of complaints the commission had received this year was “as low as ever”. According to election officials, more than 25,000 ballot papers have been invalidated – including those from the Bryansk polling station.

On Saturday, Pamfilova claimed that videos were being fabricated. It showed a video in which the police confronted a group of people in an apartment with video equipment, ballot papers and a ballot box. The video showed that the group had photos of the imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, among others.

Golos, who has been exposing Russian electoral problems since 2000, disagreed with Pamfilova’s assessment of the extent of the violations that year.

“Violations during the voting and counting, the three-day voting process and the counting process in some regions, where we believe the results have been significantly skewed, do not allow us to speak about the veracity of the results obtained by the electoral commission system just demonstrated, ”the group said in a statement on Monday.

—Daria Litvinova, The Associated Press


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