Autocrats have an impressive habit of producing extraordinary election results. Be it Indonesia’s Suharto, who won the last elections with 75 percent of votes, Hosni Mubarak from Egypt who got 89 percent votes or Romanian Nicolae Ceausescu who cleared the ground with 98 percent. All these “heroes” are the result of manipulated elections and display the loss of public opinion and true democracy.
On March 18th, Sunday, elections for president took place in Russia and the expected outcome: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was elected with a huge number of votes. Why it was expected? Because the majority of Russians accept rules forced on them by Vladimir Putin. In other words, in a manipulated and sham elections like Russia, only Vladimir is allowed to win.
This time, securing 76per cent of votes Vladimir Putin is crowned president for the fourth time. If he completes the tenure then he will be ruling Russia for 25 years that is quarter of a century. He also served the country as a Prime Minister between 2008 to 2012. In all these years, he never faced any strong antagonism and his long rule is a result of indefinite violence. Always represented as some unknown affairs, we have seen killings of Democrats, anti-corruption activists, and journalists.
If Vladimir Putin is so powerful in the country then why is he required to choreograph the voting process? Why the Russian elections are bogus? We are listing four reasons why true democracy in Russia is still a dream.
- Politically talented rivals are prohibitedImage Source : images.indianexpress.com
Only selective candidates are allowed to run for the elections who do not pose much of harm to Vladimir. Most of them are selected by Kremlin and Russian media is not showing any of these because they are under Kremlin’s influence. If anyone stands to threaten Vladimir’s dominance, he is silenced. It is not a difficult task to win the elections if there is no strong opposition.Boris Nemtsov was shot dead in 2015 by a few assassins. Nobody knew the reason for the act, but it was traced that the order came from Vladimir. Boris, one of the strongest opposition in Russia, a critic of Putin, wanted democratic reform and expressed his desires to run in presidential elections.Recent rival and a top contender against Vladimir in 2018, Alexei Navalny was not allowed to participate because of his criminal conviction. He has been harassed by security and detained repeatedly. In an attack from an unknown, he was sprayed on the face with some green dye. Due to which he has lost 80 percent of the vision from one eye. He was rejected previously in 2012 as well, for the presidential elections as he was convicted for a fraud, which he and his supporters deny.2. Corruption in the Voting processVladimir uses customized methods to get votes and the same happened on Sunday. Golos, Anti-Corruption Foundation and Open Russia conducted monitoring of the election process and reported numerous violations including voter bloats, voting compulsion from employers, multiple votes from one voter and ballot stuffing. As per Golos, there were all kinds of giveaways, free movie tickets, selfie contests, discounted food, lottery tickets and much more.Videos are going viral on Russian social media where election officials were allegedly stuffing ballot boxes. In one video from a polling booth at Moscow, a lady repeatedly stuffs papers in the ballot box. Another one from Chechnya shows a gentleman in military uniform dipping several ballot papers in the box. The third video shows a woman shifting balloons in front of the camera as the election officers start the counting for votes.3. Controlled Media
State owns all the popular media in Russia, be it printed, internet or satellite broadcasts.
Television is the most popular medium that is dominated by Vladimir Putin. All the channels start his coverage ahead of the elections giving him an extra edge over opponents. News channels, online reporting websites and monthly magazines favor Vladimir, remain uncritical of him and support all the decisions taken by the Russian government or its officials.Independent journalists or human rights activists are generally harassed or violently killed. A reporter named Anna Politkovskaya was investigating several “gray” acts of Vladimir Putin and human right violations in Chechnya. She was assassinated in 2006. Other unfortunate ones are Magnitsky, Estemirova, Klebnikov and many more.Addition to the proofs – Russia stands at 148 out of 180 in the Press Freedom Index systematized by Reporters Without Borders.
- Power of Gangsters With a wealth of several million dollars
Vladimir is a powerful man who sits at the top of the structure that runs security bureaucrats, state administration and politics. He is the godfather for gangster barons operating in Russia. All ready to do his willing.
- Reports by ODIHRWe are still waiting for the final reports from Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) who sent observers in Russia during the polls. But the reports from 2012 clearly states the election campaigns were directed in favor of one candidate.All the candidates running in the election had access to media, but then the prime minister Vladimir was given an advantage. State and administrative resources were also involved in his support. In several regions, superiors ordered individuals to take part in the election. Public institutions and their subordinates materialized campaigns to support Vladimir. Local authorities also used regional channels and newspapers to facilitate Vladimir’s campaign. Clearly, the face of the Russian elections has not changed since then.Now, you should know elections in Russia is boring and a formality wherein everyone knows the results. Knowing the result is the face of fake democracy in Russia.As per Mathieu Boulègue, Russian elections are not even elections, if you look at the international level of democracy. Mathieu is a researcher for Eurasia and Russia program. One of the London based think tanks for foreign affairs told Newsgeek – “This is a performative moment not only for Russia but also for the international community.” That does not mean that Vladimir Putin is not working hard, pulling off a sham election is a bigger task than winning a real one. Features of a genuine looking election process have to be deployed to feed the international media and other powerful governments.