STATEMENT No.2 of GOLOS Association on findings of long-term monitoring of the electoral campaign at the regional elections set for March 1, 2009 (the campaigning stage)
STATEMENT No.2 of GOLOS Association on findings of long-term monitoring of the electoral campaign at the regional elections set for March 1, 2009 (the campaigning stage)
The Association of Non-Profit Organizations “In Defense of Voters’ Rights «GOLOS»“ conducts long-term and short-term monitoring of the electoral process. This monitoring is carried on by long-term observers, correspondents of Grazhdanskiy GOLOS newspaper, and the Association’s activists. The Association receives information both from mass media and from expert interviews with representatives of political parties, NPO leaders, electoral commissions members, and from ordinary citizens reporting violations in the course of campaigns to the Association representatives and via a “hot line” (phone number 8–800 333 3350).
As an organization guided in its work by election monitoring standards accepted throughout the world, GOLOS Association strictly observes political neutrality as one of the main conditions of independent and objective election monitoring. GOLOS takes all possible measures in order to oblige all its workers and activists to observe the said principles.
In its electoral campaigns monitoring, GOLOS is guided by general and universal international electoral standards (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948; the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 6, 1966 and took force on March 23, 1976; the Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union on March 26, 1994) as well as by regional international electoral standards and by provisions of the Russian legislation.
When monitoring the electoral process, the organization concentrates attention first of all on: 1) respect of citizens’ electoral rights and compliance with the electoral procedures; 2) the electoral commissions’ activities; 3) use of the administrative resource during the electoral campaign; 4) ensuring equal opportunities for all candidates; 5) developments on the Election Day.
The present Statement is the second GOLOS Association’s statement on the results of long-term monitoring of the campaigning stage at the elections of deputies of legislative (representative) state power bodies of Russian Federation subjects, heads of administrative centers of Russian Federation subjects, deputies of representative bodies of municipal rayons and other municipal entities, set for March 1, 2009. Before the end of the campaign, the Association will issue one more statement on the results of monitoring of the election day and vote count.
March 1, 2009 will see elections of legislative bodies of 9 Russian regions, 10 mayors and 12 representative bodies of administrative centers of Russian regions. Besides, many heads of local self-government and representative bodies of other municipal entities will be elected.
Findings of GOLOS Association
Repeal of registration
The greatest number of suits for repeal of registration was filed at the municipal elections, especially at the elections of municipal entities heads. Many opposition candidates were, under far-fetched pretexts, deprived of registration at the municipal elections in St. Petersburg.
GOLOS Association attracts attention to the fact that despite the extremely low level of political competition at these elections, various technologies for de-registration and non-registration of candidates and party lists were widely used. It was especially visible at the municipal elections where real competition still remains. Analysis of non-registered party lists and candidates shows that the overwhelming majority of them were opposition representatives.
Use of the administrative resource at the elections
The administrative resource is actively employed in the campaigns of candidates from the administrations who, as a rule, run under the flag of “United Russia” party. They have the preferential right of entry to enterprises and institutions, and they dominate the media through “coverage of their professional activities”. Pressure is put on workers of the budget-funded sphere, of other enterprises and institutions, in order to make them vote for the authorities’ candidates. Pressure on candidates, in order to make them withdraw their nominations, is undoubtedly a variety of the administrative resource. At the same time, obstacles to campaigning of other candidates were put in several regions.
Governor of Murmansk Oblast Yuriy Yevdokimov for the first time publicly sharply criticized the “United Russia” campaign at the election of Murmansk mayor. He told journalists that a dirty game was under way: “This has never brought any good, and no party which based its plans and victories on lies, falsification and slander, has ever won.” He added that he had at his disposal a “massive of negative information which causes aversion to the electoral campaign”: “The unfortunate housing and utilities workers are forced to take away “undesirable” campaign ads from post boxes. Certain persons already put pressure on schoolchildren, in order that their parents would voted for a certain candidate.”
GOLOS Association notes that failure to offer real counteraction to utilization of public resources by the executive branch leads to systemic violation of the main principle of the elections, that of equality of all their participants!
I. RECONSIDERATION OF REGISTRATION-RELATED DECISIONS, EXCLUSION OF PARTY LISTS AND CANDIDATES FROM THE ELECTIONS
The number of party lists at the elections to the regional legislatures has remained the same although certain candidates were excluded from them.
Only two (out of six initially registered) candidates remained at the election of mayor of Severodvinsk (Archangel Oblast). On February 12, the Severodvinsk City Court satisfied a suit of candidate Andrey Mikhailov, a pensioner, and repealed candidate registration of businessman Valeriy Andriyakin – on the grounds, as in the three preceding cases, that the electoral deposit was improperly formed. The deposit amount is 150 thousand Rubles and the candidate’s own money in them cannot exceed 100 thousand Rubles, while candidate Andriyakin paid the whole deposit out if his own means. Earlier the court satisfied two suits of the same Andrey Mikhailov and repealed registration of candidates Sergey Nepogodyev (head of the local TV) and Anatoliy Gurov (vice-mayor), and registration of Sergey Neumyvako was repealed on the suit of Valeriy Andriyakin himself. Now, only two candidates remained in the race: “United Russia” candidate, chairman of the trade-union committee of the defense enterprise “Zviozdochka” Mikhail Gmyrin and pensioner Mikhailov, Gmyrin’s backup man, as local media describe him. Experts forecast a surge of protest voting at the simultaneous election to the Oblast Assembly of Deputies.
On February 24, the Nevinnomyssk City Court (Stavropol Krai) repealed registration of a self-nominated candidate for city mayor, director for development of LLC “NevKhleboProduct” Aleksandr Peliukh. Another candidate had filed a suit, in which it was asserted that A. Peliukh committed three violations of law: illegal campaigning on media, financing of campaigning by funds others than the electoral fund, and voter bribery. The court discarded the last point due to lack of evidence: voter bribery through distribution of “food packages” to citizens took place, but it was not proved that Peliukh ordered it. However, the court ruled that the candidate soent for his campaigning 5 percent more than the permitted electoral fund; he received funds in violation of regulations and was to return them, instead, he spent them, erroneously supposing that everything was done properly. He thus spent 200 thousand Rubles more than the prescribed limit. Besides, he several times placed campaign commercials on the local TV, in which the voters were asked to vote against another candidate (earlier the Territorial Electoral Commission had forbidden to broadcast them). Registration of present mayor Viktor Ledovskiy had been repealed still earlier, so five candidates remained, one of them was the regional minister of economic development Konstantin Khramov nominated by “United Russia”.
The Noyabrsk Electoral Commission (the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District) for the second time refused to register a party list of “Patriots of Russia” at the election to the City Duma. For the first time, it was refused on the grounds that there were no registered branch of that party in the district. The party filed a suit against this decision in January, and the court ruled that existence of the Tiumen Oblast regional branch was sufficient. Then the commission set to work checking up and sorting out the documents accompanying the list. As the commission chairman Oleg Shmyglin announced, 326 signatures for nomination of the list were found invalid or unauthentic. This made 21 percent of the total number of signatures, sufficient for the registration to be repealed.
Candidate for mayor of Cheliabinsk, leader of the “Just Russia” party regional branch Yevgeniy Rogoza, officially withdrew his nomination on February 24 (he filed his application on February 23).
Ye. Rogoza decided to support election of Viacheslav Tarasov, the former mayor. Earlier Ye. Rogoza filed a suit with the Sovetskiy Rayon Court, in which he accused the present mayor Mikhail Yurevich of voter bribery. It was asserted that M. Yurevich knew about his nomination by “United Russia’ as early as in October, so he began handing out candies and opening new city facilities long before obtaining registration. The city administration’s decision to offer municipal property as a security for a bank loan to JSC “Cheliabinskiy Kuznechnopressoviy Zavod”, Ye. Rogoza argued, was also voter bribery, all the more so that M. Yurevich publicly pledged to continue such practices. The suit was rejected on February 19.
On February 18, the Sovetskiy Rayon Court rejected three suits for de-registration of V. Tarasov, an independent candidate. The suit contained allegations of voter bribery, knowingly making unrealizable campaign pledges, and violation of the campaign financing regulations. The suits were filed by the City Electoral Commission, based on complaints from a female resident of the city, mayoral candidate Nikolay Mialichkin, and candidate for the City Duma Vasiliy Seredonin.
Other attempts to repeal candidates’ registration were also reported.
Vitaliy Shestakov, a candidate for the Volgograd Oblast Duma from “Just Russia”, was deprived of his chance to run on February 5 by the Oblast Court – by satisfying a suit filed by Valentina Kashtanova, a self-nominated candidate in the same electoral district No. 4. The court ruled that V. Shestakov had not officially left “United Russia” by the moment of his nomination by “Just Russia” (according to law, a party cannot nominate a candidate who is a member of another party).
On February 17, the Oblast Court declined to repeal registration of “Just Russia” candidate in district No. 3 Yefim Shusterman. A suit was filed by his opponent Andrey Khimichev (“United Russia”) on the grounds that Ye. Shusterman had failed to provide duplicates of all necessary documents (in particular, of his labor card) and complete personal information (being editor of Inter newspaper, he presented himself as vice-chairman of an Oblast Duma committee).
Candidates of parties, which are in opposition to “United Russia” and to the regional administrations, “voluntarily” abandon the race in several regions.
For example, all three candidates (deputies of the Koriazhma City Duma – businesswoman Yelena Yakovleva, physician of the city hospital Sergey Kulakov, and teacher of Russian language and literature at school No. 6 Angelina Afanasyeva) were excluded from the registered list of “Just Russia” regional branch at the election to the Archangel Oblast Assembly of Deputies. The decision was taken on February 12 by accepting the candidates’ personal applications. As the result, the whole regional section of the list, corresponding to the electoral district No. 13, was excluded.
In Khakassia, Aleksandr Syskin, chairman of the Agroindustrial Complex Trade Union regional branch, on February 3 filed an application for withdrawal of his nomination by the “Patriots of Russia” list. Two more “Patriots of Russia” members (Vladimir Yegorov, the former director of the Abakan dairy plant and now a businessman, and businessman Gennadiy Petrov) voluntarily withdrew from the race. Tamara Yeremeyeva, a methodology specialist of the Ust-Abakan Rayon Educational Division, on February 6 withdrew her nomination as a candidate from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF).
According to the CPRF information, pressure is being put on its candidates at the election to the Briansk Oblast Duma.
Several candidates for the Cheliabinsk City Duma announced voluntary withdrawal from the race. In particular, two candidates from the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) withdrew. Six (out of eight) “Patriots of Russia” candidates at the election to the Cheliabinsk City Duma also withdrew, their applications were accepted at the City Electoral Commission meeting on February 14. As sources in the City Electoral Commission said, the applications had been filed “because of insufficient funds for campaigning”.
Nikolay Korobkov, the present mayor of Noyabsrk, withdrew his nomination from the election to the City Duma (the next head of the city will be elected by the City Duma). The conflict began in fall 2008 when Nikolay Korobkov won a court decision on dissolution of the Duma after repeal of the direct election of mayor and introduction of city manager office and combined system of Duma election (13 deputies to be elected by party lists and 12 by one-mandate districts). However, in the end of the year governor of the Yamalo-Nenets district Yuriy Neyelov announced that N. Korobkov would not run at the election. He was not included into the list submitted by the regional branch of “United Russia’ to the city Political Council of the party, number one in the list was vice-mayor of Noviy Urengoy Vladimir Nuykin. Despite this, the city branch of the party nominated its own list of candidates, with Anatoliy Krylosov (secretary of the Political Council, general director of LLC “Gazprom Dobycha Noyabrsk”) in the first place, and N. Korobkov in the second. The electoral commission had registered the list. Sources in the Political Council informed that N. Korobkov had withdrawn from the race and then disappeared. Later it was reported that he anyway withdrew his nomination.
According to the St. Petersburg City Electoral Commission data, 3,611 candidates were registered, as of February 18, at the elections to representative bodies of the municipal entities in the city (4,675 were nominated, with 1,535 deputies to be elected). “United Russia” had the greatest number of registered candidates (1468), followed by “Just Russia” (793), the CPRF (319) and the LDPR (253). Self-nominated candidates (many of them members of “Yabloko” and the United Civic Front) accounted for the greatest number of non-registrations – 723 registered out of 1,283 nominated.
II. USE OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE RESOURCE
A large shipment of CPRF campaign literature was confiscated by police in Severodvinsk: the police department officers stopped a truck with an edition of Pravda Pomorya newspaper immediately after it left the printing shop. The load and the accompanying persons were detained on the pretext that a check-up copy had been submitted to the electoral commission for registration before distribution. However, it was impossible to do it because the newspapers were not even unpacked. The load and the party representatives were released only by request of State Duma deputy Andrey Andreyev, but even then the Oblast Electoral Commission procrastinated with registration of this campaign material, on the pretext that the commission’s seal could not be found.
The regional authorities also try to put pressure on heads of local self-government in the cities and rayons where elections are set for March 1. For example, Archangel Oblast governor Ivan Mikhalchuk threatened to institute criminal proceedings against head of Pinezhskiy Rayon administration Pavel Menshutkin. In November 2008, the governor had expressed the opinion that the head of Onega Rayon administration was unfit for the office, and soon a criminal case was instituted against this official. Earlier, in the spring of 2008, when businesswoman Larisa Bazanova had won the mayoral election in Archangel, vote recount was ordered, and acting mayor Viktor Pavlenko, supported by the governor, was declared the winner.
Representatives of the CPRF also assert that in Briansk Oblast teachers and kindergarten nurses were ordered to work as pollsters, and ambulances transported campaign literature of “United Russia”. The CPRF commercials were eliminated from TV air in Vladimir Oblast, as “fostering social discord”. The CPRF also says that the riot police dispersed the party’s sanctioned meetings in Tver and Khabarovsk. At the same time, State Duma deputy Vadim Solovyov told journalists that the party promptly resolved a conflict with the Tatarstan Electoral Commission, with regard to elimination of CPRF and LDPR commercials from the regional TV air. The commercials, produced for the election to the republic’s State Council, featured leaders of the parties, Gennadiy Ziuganov and Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, respectively, and “United Russia” and “Just Russia” complained it was illegal because both politicians did not run themselves.
Vladimir branch of GOLOS Association reports that municipal officials are routinely attracted to campaigning. The following phone message from head of a rayon administration Vladimir Kostkin was received at the social welfare department of the oblast administration: “I ask to dispatch your representative to a meeting of the staff which will take place on January 29, 2009 in 4 p.m. at 5, Gagarin Street. The agenda: meeting with candidate for the Legislative Assembly A. Kiriukhin” (“United Russia”). No officials of the department attended the meeting, as participation in campaign events in work hours is forbidden, but there were phone calls from the rayon administration asking for explanations. A natural question is, why the head of administration and his subordinates take part in the campaign staff work, and why they do it in their work hours and use municipally owned means of communication.
Communists faced a provocation in Volgograd Oblast: the police prevented them from laying flowers to the Lenin monument, on the pretext that the crowd which gathered near the monument was nothing but an unsanctioned meeting. On the next night windows were broken with stones in the “United Russia’ office. The greatest scandal took place at signing of a treaty “For Fair Elections” attended by representatives of five parties. The CPRF refused to sign declaring that the agreement was “hypocritical, and fairness and transparency of elections were declared just on paper”. Alevtina Aparina, the first secretary of the CPRF Oblast Committee, at a press-conference on the same day accused “United Russia’ of employment of the administrative resource. A vice-governor, she asserted, was putting such pressure on the majority of heads of rayon administrations.
Press-service of the Nenets Autonomous District distributed a statement of former governor V. Potapenko, ousted from the office by the president on February 16. He declared that he agreed with the resignation, and also stated: “As head of the district I had to be impartial and had no right to campaign for a certain political organization. However, I have been, and remain, a member of “United Russia”. Today I for the first time enjoy my constitutional right and call you, dear voters, to vote for “United Russia”.” The District Electoral Commission ruled that such an appeal is undoubtedly a violation because the state power bodies are not allowed to engage in campaigning, especially when performing their statutory functions. It was reported that the commission had already issued a warning to the administration, promising to take appropriate measures. It should be noted that numerous banners with V. Potapenko’s portraits and slogan “To hear the people, to work for the people” were not paid for from the party’s electoral fund, and probably are treated as social advertising. At the same time, banners with the same slogan and portraits of I. Koshin, chairman of the regional legislature, were paid for from the fund.
A unique situation has emerged in Murmansk Oblast where governor Yuriy Yevdokimov publicly acknowledged the administrative pressure on the electorate at the mayoral election in Murmansk, on the part of the city administration (vice-governor Sergey Subbotin is running against the present mayor Mikhail Savchenko nominated by “United Russia”).
On February 11, Yuriy Yevdokimov sharply criticized the “United Russia’ campaign. He told journalists that a dirty game was under way, and called the campaign participants “to stop defamation of the party”: “This has never brought any good, and no party which based its plans and victories on lies, falsification and slander, has ever won.” He added that he had at his disposal a “massive of negative information which causes aversion to the electoral campaign”, Interfax and other media reported from the press-conference. “The unfortunate housing and utilities workers are forced to take away “undesirable” campaign ads from post boxes. Kindergarten workers are forced to distribute certain campaign literature. Certain persons already put pressure on schoolchildren, in order that their parents would voted for a certain candidate”, Yevdokimov stated.
The federal leadership of “United Russia” reacted harshly. Head of the party’s Central Executive Committee Andrey Vorobyov declared: “The governor’s statements are not confirmed by the facts. This nervousness of party member Yevdokimov is actually caused by quite different reasons”. In A. Vorobyov’s words, the governor first supported M. Savchenko, nominated by “United Russia”, then suddenly changed his course and nominated S. Savchenko as his candidate, “thus sowing dissention and provoking struggle which is contrary to the region’s interests”. “We will, without regret, exclude such party members for actions of that kind”, A. Vorobyov concluded. On February 12, head of the party’s Supreme Council Boris Gryzlov stated that the governor repudiated M. Savchenko fearing his growing popularity as a possible gubernatorial candidate. A large-scale campaign for discreditation of Yu. Yevdokimov was launched simultaneously in the federal media (critical reports appeared in Rossiyskaya gazeta, on RTR etc.). Twelve NPOs close to the Murmansk administration (out of 800 registered in the oblast) filed an appeal with the RF Public Chamber, with sharp criticism of the governor (“Presently, the situation in Murmansk Oblast is such that our region, rich with natural resources, is literally put on the brink of survival. Present governor Yuriy Yevdokimov has ruled the Oblast for almost 13 years…”). In response, members of the Public Chamber of Murmansk Oblast expressed their concern about the “unprecedented pressure” on the governor in that appeal.
There is some evidence that it is planned to organize prize-winning games and lotteries on the election day in order to stimulate voter turnout. However, such evidence is fragmentary because, in view of the crisis, financial resources of regional and local business, and of local authorities, are limited.
Such reports were received from Novosibirsk Oblast. Kommersant-Sibir newspaper reported on February 6 that the Public Anti-Crisis Committee (PAC), set up with participation of “United Russia”, proposed project “The Kind Card” providing substantial discounts on various commodities to the citizens: when coming to vote, they will receive a discount card of one of five types, right at the polling station. Viktor Ignatov, member of the Presidium of the Political Council of the “United Russia” regional branch, interviewed by the newspaper, admitted that the PAC was established by local businesses and “The Young Guards of «United Russia»” but “initially the idea originated with the businessmen”. A top manager of a company involved with the project agreed that participation in it had a “political aspect’ but ‘nobody was forced into the program against his will”. Kommersant-Sibir journalists found out that 10 entities took part in the program, offering five different “profile” cards: drugstore nets “Raduga” and “Vasha apteka”, belonging to ROSTA group, were responsible for pharmaceuticals (5-percent discount); “Holiday’ group was to sell food at 12-percent discount; perfumery stores “Parfiumika” and “Renuar” as well as flower sellers were combined into the third group (15 percent); eating and drinking establishments (“Chashka kofe” and “Traveler’s coffee” nets) and cinemas (“ArtScience Cinema Distribution” company) formed the fourth (20%); automobile gas was to be sold by “NovosibirskNefteProdukt’ (one-Ruble discount per one liter).
The following cases of illegal campaigning were recorded
The Severodvinsk Territorial Electoral Commission discovered a campaign ad not officially declared. Article “Parliamentarians from the industry solve Northerners’ social problems” was published in Severniy rabochiy newspaper (January 15, page 2). It informed that deputy of the Oblast Assembly of Deputies, candidate for mayor of Severodvinsk M. Gmyrin summed up the results of work of the Assembly’s Committee on Military-Industrial Complex and Conversion Policies, which he chaired. The article included a photograph of N. Kalistratov, M. Gmyrin and a representative of the RF Government. Sub-section “Zviozdochka” in Severniy rabochiy run reports with M. Gmyrin’s photographs together with honorable shipbuilders, chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia M. Shmakov, and general director of “Zviozdochka” shipbuilding plant V. Nikitin. M. Gmyrin photograph, with Oblast governor I. Mikhalchuk and other persons, accompanied article “Among the women: A pleasant surprise at a New Year party”. The article narrated how M. Gmyrin and V. Nikitin spoke before the plant’s female workers on December 27, 2008, and were introduced by I. Mikhalchuk as official “United Russia” candidates at the elections of Severodvinsk mayor and to the Assembly of Deputies, respectively. Candidates M. Gmyrin and V. Nikitin did not declare the said reports as their campaign ads, they were published by decision of the editorial office and the publisher, LLC “Redaktsiya gazety «Severniy rabochiy»“. The electoral commission issued a warning to the editorial office.
A portrait of RF president Dmitriy Medvedev, with inscription “Attention to the people is central to our work”, was installed on February 16 in Vladimir, on the crossroads of Mira Street and Oktiabrskiy Avenue, not far from the Oblast government building. A complaint was filed, requesting to investigate if D. Medvedev formally agreed to use of his portrait, after which the banner was removed. In contrast with that banner, a similar banner with portrait of chairman of the RF Government Vladimir Putin was paid for from the electoral fund of the “United Russia” regional branch.
On January 27, the Vladimir Oblast Court considered a complaint of the CPRF regional branch for repeal of the Oblast Electoral Commission ban on distribution of campaign ad Vladimirskaya pravda. Judge Yelena Snegiriova satisfied the suit and ordered the commission to withdraw its request to confiscate the ad, sent to the regional police department. The court order was put to immediate execution. The electoral commission banned distribution of the Communists’ ad and of “The Anti-Crisis Plan”, a campaign booklet of “United Russia” on January 20, and requested the Oblast police department to confiscate both ads.
III. SPECIFIC FEATURES OF PARTIES’ AND CANDIDATES’ CAMPAIGNS
As a whole, “United Russia” is dominating in campaigning in the majority of the regions; the party’s representatives to the greatest extent use outdoor political advertising, both direct and indirect. Other political parties and candidates for the most part use paid and free air and newspaper space, and are campaigning through printed ads and speaking before voters.
Committee “For Fair Elections” in Vladimir Oblast conducted monitoring of paid campaign ads placed in municipal newspapers by regional branches of political parties running for the regional Legislative Assembly. Here are the data for 20 days of February:
“United Russia”: 33 publications, total space: 16.1 pages of A3 format;
“Just Russia”: 35 publications, total space: 14.6 pages of A3 format;
the CPRF: 19 publications, total space: 6.3 pages of A3 format;
the LDPR: no publications, except ads of individual candidates in one-mandate districts.
Titles of publications:
“United Russia”: “Kirzhach elects Putin’s party”, “Putin’s party supports and protects’, ‘The people – Medvedev – Putin! Together we will win!”, “«United Russia» will cut down the Communist prices for housing and utilities”.
“Just Russia”: “«Just Russia» is a party of socialist choice”. “We can struggle for justice in the housing and utilities sector”, “Protection of justice”, congratulations with Valentine’s Day and the Defender of the Fatherland Day, “We need to create a no-barrier environment for handicapped persons’, “We can overcome everything if there is Just Russia”.
The CPRF: “The people’s patience is on the verge”, “The CPRF remains a people’s party”, “Let’s defend Vladimir Oblast”.
There were publications creating negative attitude toward other candidates, parties and personalities. For example, “United Russia” ad “«United Russia» will cut down the Communist tariffs for housing and utilities” accuses the Communists of the growth of tariffs. Quotation: “The Communist government of the region circumvented the federal law and set humiliating tariffs. We can oppose it only by saving Vladimir Oblast from the power of the CPRF.” Quotation: “Let ordinary residents of Vladimir Oblast think that they pay too much for housing and utilities. But the governor, CPRF member Nikolay Vinogradov thinks quite the opposite, that they pay too little and that they should pay even more.” In all, there were 11 such placements in rayon newspapers during the said period.
The CPRF ad “The people’s patience is on the verge” was accompanied by a cartoon featuring a plain man kicking a bear and driving him away from the oblast’s map. This ad was published 10 times during the said period but several times the cartoon was replaced with the CPRF logo.
One of the candidates published a campaign ad focused on creation of negative image of the opponent. On February 17, Mayak newspaper published an ad, entitled “Together for justice!” paid for from the electoral fund of candidate Aleksey Kovezin, nominated by “Just Russia” in the electoral district No. 13. Article “Subtleties of provincial politics”, paid for from the electoral fund of candidate Vladimir Kulikov (“United Russia”, the same district) was published next to Kovezin’s ad which had been certainly used in preparation of the article. It can be supposed that the editorial staff had shown Kovezin’s ad, still unpublished, to his competitor.
The Vladimir regional branch of GOLOS reported that in the end of 2008 banners and posters, with “United Russia” New Year congratulations and party logos, were placed in the oblast. “United Russia” actively used indirect campaigning in media: newspaper Prizyv regularly publicizes all activities of the party; GTRK “Vladimir” started two new programs – talk-show “33 minutes’ (to which mainly “United Russia” members were invited) and “The people’s control” (on solution of the region’s problems by “United Russia”, for the most part its candidates, although they were not presented as such). The TV channel runs a commercial “«United Russia» – we are together” (the media campaigning began on January 31) which features a logo similar to that of “United Russia” and hardly legible inscription “The fund for support of the Vladimir regional branch of «United Russia»”.
Vasha gazeta “Yedinaya Rossiya” [“Your newspaper «United Russia»”], a weekly bulletin, is published in 300 thousand copies, the expenses paid for from the electoral fund. A program “Road to Sochi-2014” was carried on in schools from January 25 through February 10: sports events were organized, and the children received diplomas (paid for from the electoral fund) signed by Olympic champion Nikolay Andrianov and the chief referees of the events who were “United Russia” candidates in all 19 one-mandate districts. The program was initiated by “United Russia” but officially handled by “The Young Guards of «United Russia»”, with substantial support from the municipal authorities (GOLOS filed complaints with the Oblast Prosecutor Office and the Electoral Commission). The candidates themselves also are campaigning actively, attracting committees of territorial public self-government (as in Vladimir and Kovrov) and speaking before the voters, also with the aid of the administrative resource.
Governor of Vladimir Oblast Nikolay Vinogradov, speaking at a press-conference on February 10, proposed to investigate legality of “Our kitchen” brochure, published in 400 thousand copies and distributed in the oblast. It is indicated on that 32-page booklet with multi-color cover, that it was printed in Novgorod Oblast, paid for from the electoral fund of the “United Russia” Vladimir regional branch. “It would be reasonable to calculate, how much did it cost and who financed this campaign. It should be checked if such expenditures were not contrary to law”, the governor noted. As to the criticisms of himself and his administration, contained in the brochure, N. Vinogradov added: “Let those who read make their findings.”
The electoral campaign aggravates the controversy between the two main political forces of the region, that is, the oblast and the city administrations. Now both of them speculate on the economic crisis. “United Russia” addresses appeals on lowering the tariffs to the regional administration which the party, in its leaflets and loyal media, describes as a brake on the oblast development (the governor is a CPRF member). Mayor of Vladimir Aleksandr Rybakov (No. 1 in the “United Russia” list) repealed his own ruling increasing the tariffs on garbage removal; the City Soviet, the majority in which belongs to the same party, on January 27 lowered the payment for kindergarten which had been increased one month before. Secretary of the “United Russia” regional branch Political Council Vladimir Kiseliov together with the mayor visited a bread bakery which had launched a new production like and froze its bread prices. All these activities are widely publicized.
The regions are frequently visited by party members – deputies of the State Dumas, members of the Federation Council and federal officials. For example, such visits to Archangel take place almost every day, each of them is actively covered by media and has its own target audience. Airline “Aeroflot-Nord” which serves routes in the oblast and the Nenets Autonomous District distributes among its passengers a free-of-charge magazine. “United Russia” is mentioned many times in the issue No. 1–2, 2009; besides, a long article on Artur Chilingarov is published – he is a State Duma deputy and No. 1 in the “United Russia” at the election to the Nenets district Assembly of Deputies.
A similar situation has evolved in Khakassia. On February 6, the republic was visited by Viacheslav Timchenko (chairman of the State Duma Committee on Local Self-Government), Yelena Kodina (assistant director of the Department of Federative Relations and Local Self-Government of the RF Ministry of Regional Development), and Tatyana Voronova (State Duma deputy, head of the Siberian Interregional Coordination Council of “United Russia”). Their formal goal was participation in a seminar organized by the All-Russian Council of Local Self-Government. State Duma deputy Irina Rodnina arrived to Khakassia on February 11 in order to “present awards to the best coaches of the republic”. Federation Council member Viacheslav Fetisov visited the republic right on the next day, February 12, in order to inspect sports facilities and studying prospects for development of winter sports in Khakassia. He congratulated seven teen-age ball-hockey players who, in the ranks of the Russia’s national team, became world bandy champions. And RF minister for emergency situations Sergey Shoygu came on February 13, officially in the framework of his “professional activities”. Indeed, he inspected fire-fighting equipment but also spoke before Abakan college students.
“United Russia” fully prevails in outdoor advertising in the Karachaevo-Circussian Republic, too, and billboards at the main streets of Cherkessk are all occupied with portraits of the party’s candidates. Deputies of the State Duma Mikhail Babich (vice-chairman of the Duma Committee on Defense, chairman of the federal commission of the Presidium of the “United Russia” General Council for consideration of citizens’ addresses to party leader Vladimir Putin) and Ivan Kvitka visited the republic. “United Russia” banners, reading “We can do everything when we are united!”, are placed along all main streets in Volgograd, while other parties’ ads are absent. Ads of “United Russia” and its candidates can be found in stores, drugstores, various institutions etc.
Meetings in support of the Government’s anti-crisis policies were also held in Volgograd. The “United Russia” regional branch and trade unions staged a meeting in favor of the state’s economic and financial policies, under the slogan “The people – Medvedev – Putin! Together we will win!”, attended by about 1.5 thousand persons. They expressed their full approval of the government’s actions, sent a telegram to the Russia’s leaders, and adopted an appeal to the Oblast population. Besides, it was announced that the first anti-crisis center had been opened in the city, to help the people find new job. In response, the CPRF arranged a meeting against the governmental policy, growth of prices and housing and utilities tariffs, unemployment, and violation of laborers’ rights. The event was attended by about 100 to 130 persons.
The CPRF is campaigning for the most part through meetings with the voters and active publication of newspapers and leaflets, under the slogans “We are different but we are together!” (the Nenets Autonomous District), “Truth and order” (Volgograd), “There is a way out – the CPRF” (Archangel) etc.
Members of the CPRF faction in the State Duma also make visits to the regions. For example, the first vice-chairman of the party Central Committee, vice-chairman of the State Duma Ivan Melnikov visited Archangel and Vladimir Oblasts to account on the faction’s work. He spoke at a press-conference, visited the Pomor State University and ship-repair yard “Laiskiy dok” in Archangel. The second day of the visit was spent in full in Severodvinsk.
Several complaints were filed in Khakassia, to the effect that the CPRF was recruiting minors for distribution of its campaign ads, or those ads were distributed at places not assigned for that according to law or rulings of the city administration.
The economic crisis and the necessity to change the socioeconomic course, both at the national and regional level, is one of the central topics of the CPRF campaign. The Archangel branch of the party demanded not to increase salaries of the mayor and the chairman of the City Soviet of Deputies by 45 percent, as provided by the city budget for 2009.
“Just Russia” at these elections wages for the most part a campaign traditional for it, that is, based on abstract notions of justice without mentioning specific problems and solutions. The party’s outdoor advertising is especially vigorous in Archangel Oblast, in the form of banners “Laws shall have the force of justice!’, “The working man shall not be poor!”, and “Together we will win justice”. The party does not campaign at all in the Nenets Autonomous District, except for placement of its federal TV commercials of the general nature. “Just Russia” in Vladimir places banners on street billboards and distributes leaflets.
Leader of “Just Russia”, chairman of the Federation Council Sergey Mironov visited Archangel, Volgograd, and Abakan. He was in Volgograd with a working visit on February 9, and held negotiations with the party’s regional branch leader, State Duma deputy Oleg Mikheyev, the first vice-governor of the Oblast Yuriy Sizov, and the party candidates for the Oblast Duma.
When in Archangel, S. Mironov met and promised aid to the people who were left homeless as the result of an explosion at a residential building at Gagarin Street, and were provided a temporary shelter at “Dvina” hotel. Speaking before residents of the township of Maymaksa, S. Mironov presented an anti-crisis program, including free municipal transport for pensioners and persons with small incomes. The Federation Council chairman also visited “Lesozavod 25”, the only still working lumber enterprise in Archangel, and met with representatives of the regional business. In Severodvinsk, S. Mironov spoke before local voters and visited heavy guided-missile cruiser Admiral Nakhimov which had been under repair since 1999. Finally, S. Mironov visited the Archangel eparchy and had a conversation with Tikhon, bishop of Archangel and Kholmogory. As to the governor, he left for one of the rayons on the day of S. Mironov’s visit, and did not meet him.
The LDPR uses paid and free air time and newspaper space to the maximum extent. The party also widely uses outdoor advertising in the Nenets Autonomous District (the slogan is “No lies, no fear!”). There are few LDPR banners in Archangel Oblast, with the slogan “The LDPR is united and just’; here a provocative newspaper Pravda Severo-Zapada is published, its editor is Ilya Azovskiy, a LDPR deputy of the Oblast Assemble of Deputies. The party uses such slogans in Volgograd Oblast, as “Voter, open your eyes – with the LDPR and nothing but FOR the LDPR!” and “The LDPR is from the people and for the people”.
GOLOS keeps on recording a large number of illegal campaigning at the election of mayor and deputies of the City Duma in Cheliabinsk.
Campaign banners of M. Yurevich, the present mayor running for re-election, are placed all around the city. He is portrayed in a hockey suit featuring commercial logos of “Makfa” and “Ariant” companies (in accordance with point 5.1, Art. 56 of the appropriate law, the campaign materials cannot contain commercial advertising).
Newspaper Tankograd is distributed in the district No. 25 (printed by LLC “Cheliabinskiy dom pechati” in 10 thousand copies, the issue sent to print on January 28, 2009, contract No. 83). The first page features an article about candidate V. Spiridonov and his photograph, paid for from his electoral fund. However, according to point 2, Art. 49 of the Federal Law No. 67, campaigning in the printed media is allowed only within 28 days before the election day, so Tankograd as a registered printed periodical cannot publish campaign ads before beginning of the prescribed term.
Newspaper Cheliabinskaya pravda and V. Alekseyev’s magazine, containing the City Duma deputy’s account to his constituency, were laid out into post boxes in the district No. 20. It was indicated in the magazine that the issue was printed on December 30, 2008 but one of the articles described the New Year celebration. A similar violation was detected in the Cheliabinskaya pravda issue No. 14 published for the same candidate. A question arises, either V. Alekseyev’s staff forged the printing date, or the candidate can foresee the future. Besides, both ads were not paid for from the electoral fund.
Booklets with portrait of S. Nikitin, a candidate for the City Duma, were laid out into post boxes in the district No. 24. The text was written on behalf of his voters, it was indicated that the payment for the booklet (5 thousand copies) was effected from the candidate’s electoral fund on February 5. The booklet contained a sharply negative appraisal of candidates S. Komiakov, A. Depershmidt, and V. Kurbatskikh. However, S. Nikitin filed an application with the City Electoral Commission and law-enforcement bodies, to the effect that he had no relation to printing and distribution of the said booklet.
On February 7, the first open championship of the Metallurgicheskiy Rayon “Hockey in felt boots” took place in the district No. 24 (at 10, Obukhov Street). It was announced that the program would include a “word of greeting from the initiators and organizers of the celebration”, “shashlyks and beer, candy and tea”. The event was staged by the Palace of Culture “Vostok” and a certain non-governmental association “Mechelgrad”, both mentioned in the advertisement. As seen from the leaflets distributed in the district and at the event itself, “Mechelgrad” was a “joint venture” of three candidates for the City Duma in the Metallurgicheskiy rayon, precisely, A. Depershmidt, V. Kurbatskikh, and S. Komiakov. The “grand trio” were present at the event themselves, although neither the advertisement, nor the event were not financed from any electoral fund.
GOLOS accumulated a collection of newspapers published on the same day, with the same issue number, publication data, and contract number, but with different contents. In all, there were seven such variations of the same issue of newspaper Itogi 74, one for each of all seven rayons of the city.