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The Numbers Game

The graph shows higher support for United Russia in precincts reporting higher turnout.
The graph shows higher support for United Russia in precincts reporting higher turnout.
After the December 2007 Duma elections and March 2008 presidential election (hello, Dmitry Medvedev!), some intrepid Russian bloggers and independent election observers performed some heroic work to highlight the extent of the election fraud in Russia. I wrote about their work here, paying particular attention to some meticulous statistical analysis that was done. If you want the full story, get a copy of “The Forensics Of Election Fraud: Russia And Ukraine” by U.S.-based professors Mikhail Maygkov and Peter Ordeshook and Dmitry Shakin of Moscow’s Academy of National Economy.

Now Russia’s bloggers are at it again, putting the microscope to the official results of the October 11 Moscow City Duma elections, in which, according to official results United Russia won 66 percent of the vote and 32 of the 35 council seats. That’s right, under the grossly unfair seat-allocation system that they instituted before the vote, 66 percent of the vote translates into 91 percent of the seats. Official turnout in Moscow was put at about 35 percent.

A blogger named kireyev posted on his LiveJournal blog an analysis of all the more than 3,000 polling stations in Moscow, using official data from the Central Election Commission. His figures show compellingly that the higher the reported turnout at a particular polling station, the higher the vote total for United Russia was there. That is, all the “above average” votes seem to have gone to the ruling party.

Kireyev then analyzed the 146 polling stations that reported 20 percent turnout or less, figuring that these precincts had the least fraud, at least in the form of ballot-box stuffing. He found that among these stations, the results were: United Russia, 46 percent; the Communist Party, 21 percent; the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), 9.8 percent; Yabloko, 8.3 percent; A Just Russia, 8 percent; and Patriots of Russia, 3.1 percent.

Another blogger, Andrei A., took Kireyev’s numbers a bit further and calculated that the actual turnout for the Moscow elections was about 20 percent and that United Russia polled about 42 percent. He estimated that the average fraud among all polling stations was 15 percent of the ballots, while the maximum fraud reached more than 30 percent in some precincts.

A third blogger, avmalgin, got a hold of the voter protocols for polling station No. 1,702 in Moscow. That document shows 192 votes for United Russia, 98 for the Communist Party, 50 for A Just Russia, 38 for Yabloko, 37 for the LDPR, and 11 for the Patriots of Russia. However, the website of the Central Election Commission, of which the blogger presents a screenshot, shows the exact same results for all the parties – except for United Russia. By official results, United Russia got 742 votes. That is, United Russia’s percentage was magically raised from 45 percent to 74 percent.

These bloggers and others like them are doing brave work. Central Election Commission head Vladimir Churov has already compared those who are reporting on the fraud to "terrorists" and has threatened to prosecute them.

With any luck, though, we’ll be seeing a lot more of this information in the coming days. If you spot any, please forward them to me.

-- Robert Coalson

About This Blog

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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