State workers forced to vote in effort to rig result for president
The Kremlin is planning to rig the results of Russia's parliamentary elections on Sunday by forcing millions of public sector workers across the country to vote, the Guardian has learned.
Local administration officials have called in thousands of staff on their day off in an attempt to engineer a massive and inflated victory for President Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party. Voters are being pressured to vote for United Russia or risk losing their jobs, their accommodation or bonuses, the Guardian has been told in numerous interviews with byudzhetniki (public sector workers), students and ordinary citizens.
Russians say being forced to vote in election
Students in Siberia, doctors on the Volga river, and office workers in Moscow say they are being threatened with disciplinary action if they do not vote in Sunday's parliamentary election.
Accounts collected by Reuters, and others posted on Internet blogs, suggest some employers are telling their staff to vote at work on Sunday -- even though for many it is not a working day -- where managers plan to check who has cast their ballot.
Reuters: Kasparov decries Russia ballot "rape"
Garry Kasparov accused Russian authorities of "raping the whole electoral system" with numerous instances of irregularities in Sunday's parliamentary election.
Speaking to a crowd of mostly foreign reporters after casting a protest vote, Kasparov said the opposition had evidence of ballot-stuffing and of threats to hospital patients and state workers unless they voted for pro-Kremlin parties.
"They are not just rigging the vote, they are raping the whole electoral system," Kasparov said. "These elections are a reminder of Soviet elections when there was no choice."
Patients in state-run hospitals had been told treatment would be withdrawn unless they voted for United Russia and state workers had been threatened with the sack unless they obeyed order to back the Kremlin party, Kasparov added.
Kasparov said the Russian section of the internet blogging site livejournal.com was full of reported examples of electoral fraud.
Amnesty International has accused Russia of "systematic disregard for basic human rights" in the run-up to Sunday's vote. It has cited interference with the right to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of association.
Kasparov and his Other Russia dissident movement are not standing in Sunday's parliamentary election because they could not get registered as a party.
Reuters (video): Fraud claims in Russia poll
AFP: US urges Russia to probe election violations
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States on Sunday urged Russia to investigate claims of election day violations, after partial results showed President Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party had won a crushing victory.
"Early reports from Russia include allegations of election day violations. We urge Russian authorities to investigate these claims," said White House national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
The Russian opposition has vowed to challenge what it said were widespread vote violations after early results showed the United Russia Party had won 63.6 percent of the vote in Sunday's parliamentary polls, with just over a third of all ballots counted.
Johndroe added that before the elections, the White House "expressed our concern regarding the use of state administrative resources in support of United Russia, the bias of the state-owned or influenced media in favor of United Russia, intimidation of political opposition, and the lack of equal opportunity encountered by opposition candidates and parties.
"We also regret that limitations Russia imposed on election monitors prevented OSCE's ODIHR from fielding an election monitoring mission," he said, referring to the Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.