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Gorbachev Calls Local Elections A Sham

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

The man who initiated the first competitive elections in the Soviet Union two decades ago has slammed Russia's most recent vote as a sham.

In an interview published today in "Novaya gazeta," Mikhail Gorbachev said the October 11 local elections, which were swept by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party amid massive claims of vote rigging, have damaged trust in the country's political institutions:

This is a complete failure of political strategists, who were guided by the utterly worthless principle that 'it doesn't matter how the people vote; what matters is how we count.' In everyone's eyes, the elections turned into a mockery of the people and showed a deep disrespect for their voices. The party of power gained the result it needed by discrediting political institutions and the very party itself.

Allegations of vote rigging in the October 11 local elections have been backed up in some cases by videotaped evidence.

Gorbachev's comments are the second high-profile attack on the election results.

The election sparked a brief walkout in the State Duma by three parties, the ultranationalist Liberal Democrats (LDPR), the Communists, and A Just Russia. Although, as we have written here and here, this appears to have been inspired more by inter-clan battles in the Kremlin that by any concern for democratic practices.

It is still unclear what motivated Gorbachev, who has been largely supportive of the current regime, to take such a forceful public stand.

-- Brian Whitmore

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The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or


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