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Hacked websites and fraud mark Russia's parliamentary elections
05 Dec 2011
BY ELENA VLASENKO

Parliamentary elections were held in Russia yesterday (4 December). Several independent media websites were hacked on election day; journalists and rights activists claim this was to prevent coverage of electoral violations.

With 96 per cent of votes processed by 5 December, United Russia has polled 49.54 per cent. That’s a 15 per cent decrease since the 2007 elections. Consequently, United Russia, led by Vladimir Putin, has lost its constitutional majority. It now has just 238 out of 450 seats in the Russian State Duma.

The other seats were taken by the Communist Party (which polled 19.16 per cent), A Just Russia (13.22) and LDPR (11.66). Three parties, including the opposition Yabloko led by noted Russian economist Grigory Yavlinsky, didn’t get over the threshold of seven per cent necessary to enter the Duma.

Every major party bar United Russia complained of violations. Observers and journalists reported vote fraud and “carousels” when a group of the same people voted several times at different poll stations in an organised way.

Monitors said they were removed from polling stations after trying to complain, or that their complaints were not logged. At one polling station in Moscow the head of a district election comission ostentatiously poured hot tea on complaints filed by an observer.

Russia’s leading independent watchdog — GOLOS Association — reported over 5,000 violations. Yabloko and Communist Party observers said that in Moscow alone they logged no fewer than 50 incidents. The Interior Ministry said there were 2,000 election law violations registered, none of which were likely to affect the elections results.

Protests were held in Moscow and St Petersburg against “unfair elections” by several opposition movements. Most of the participants (about 100 people in each city) were detained.

It was difficult for journalists to report violations.  Many independent media websites were hacked early on 4 December and were inaccessible for the whole day. One couldn’t read about fraud on websites of Echo Moskvy radio station, Kommersant newspaper, The New Times, Forbes Russia and Bolshoy Gorod magazines, or the Slon.ru news portal. Blogging service LiveJournal, a popular discussion platform, was also down, having experienced biggest hacking attack in its history. Finally, GOLOS’ website and its remarkable Map of Election Violations — an online map with messages about elections fraud from all over Russia — were hacked.

With the cyber-attacks preventing observers reporting fraud online, journalists and rights activists instead used Facebook and Twitter to spread and exchange information.

But in spite of their efforts, the head of the Central Election Commission Vladimir Churov expressed confidence in the results, claiming that thousands of violations reports were “lies” and the elections were held in line with the law. The OSCE filed a report saying that the Duma elections were “technically well-administered”, but “marked by the convergence of the State and the governing party”.

Critics rallied on 5 December, with over 5,000 people in Moscow protesting against “illegitimate elections”. Russian TV has yet to report this.

11 responses to “Hacked websites and fraud mark Russia’s parliamentary elections”

  1. […] stating that repressions won’t stop the protest movement which arose after allegedly fraudulent parliamentary elections in […]

  2. […] — founder of the Yabloko opposition party — as a presidential candidate. Yabloko did not reach the seven per cent minimum in the State Duma elections, but according to electoral law, the party […]

  3. […] filed a complaint to the Central Election Committee in the time leading up to Russia’s parliamentary elections on 4 December. He complained that the posters used Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party were […]

  4. […] and anti-Putin protesters have clashed every day since the parliamentary elections on 4 […]

  5. […] Russia held on 10 December. According to the protesters, the 4 December parliamentary elections were fraudulent and called for a new election to be held. They also called for the immediate release of political […]

  6. […] calling for new parliamentary elections in Russia, as well as a thorough investigation into all reports of alleged fraud on elections held on 4 December. The Russian authorities rejected the EU parliament’s […]

  7. […] for the dismissals, according to Usmanov, was the magazine’s latest issue which talked about alleged mass fraud in parliamentary elections in Russia, particularly expatriates voting in London and witnessing […]

  8. […] to step down Tens of thousands of people participated in opposition rallies against alleged unfair parliamentary elections in Russia. The biggest was in Moscow: up to 120 thousand people demanded Russia’s prime-minister […]

  9. […] to step down Tens of thousands of people participated in opposition rallies against alleged unfair parliamentary elections in Russia. The biggest was in Moscow: up to 120 thousand people demanded Russia’s prime-minister […]

  10. […] and anti-Putin protesters have clashed every day since the parliamentary elections on 4 […]

  11. […] and anti-Putin protesters have clashed every day since the parliamentary elections on 4 […]