Russia has never been so democratic! Critics of Vladimir Putin’s regime are ironic in denouncing the vote on constitutional reform that the head of the Kremlin is suspected of orchestrating to stay in power.
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From Thursday 25 June, until Wednesday 1is July, 110 million voters are invited to the polls for what the authorities have named “A pan-russian vote”. It is not a referendum, because the procedure strictly governs its organization. For its reform, with a multitude of institutional and societal amendments, the Kremlin preferred a much less restrictive formula, which gives the ballot a democratic appearance.
“This is not an election, but a popular vote, explains the president of the 1784 polling station in Naro-Faminsk, a dormitory town on the outskirts of Moscow. Everything is done so that as many people as possible can vote for these amendments. “
Office can relocate where voters are
In the city, parks and shopping centers are boiling over this sunny weekend and, in the school yard transformed into a polling station, voters are rare. But if a request is made, the office can relocate where the voters are: hospital, factory, building courtyard, dacha … “For the moment, there have been few requests”, confides the president of the 1784 office. Next to it, the huge transparent urn still seems quite empty. “From here to 1is July should accelerate… ”
Suspicions of falsification are all the stronger since social networks are teeming with testimonies on improvised polling stations across the country, in often unusual places: in the countryside or in a parking lot, on a table next to areas in the car trunk, on a football pitch or in a bus, on an isolated bench or in the street near a shopping center…
Officially, the double spreading of the ballot, over a week and with these “relocated” offices, aims to avoid too many crowds, and to minimize health risks during this period of coronavirus. Around the ballot boxes, the assessors also ensure that the barrier gestures are respected: the voters vote masked and gloved.
To make impossible the strict and permanent control on the ballot boxes
But it is also a way to make strict and permanent control over the ballot boxes impossible. As this is not a real referendum, independent observers are rare. On its fraud map, the NGO Golos, whose several local experts were intimidated by the police, began to identify concrete cases.
Administrations and state-owned enterprises verify that civil servants and employees have voted. The pressures are strong on teachers. The lottery organization attracts voters who come out of the vote with gifts, vouchers or even … an apartment.
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Another old technique: ballot boxes were placed in ballot boxes. The electoral organization is also going digital. In Moscow, more than a million inhabitants have registered for online voting, that is to say one voter in seven … It is forbidden to vote twice, electronically and then physically. But it is not impossible, as an independent television journalist has shown in fact. One flaw among others.