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
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
, 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