Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mikhail Gorbachev calls for Russian election vote to be annulled as allegations of vote rigging emerge and monitors say election was ‘unfair’

Dear All

Although domestic matters tend to dominate politicians thinking at Westminster and Holyrood, there is an interesting develop happening in Russia.

Russia has been dominated by Vladimir Putin, the ‘Tony Blair’ of Russia, he has been the dominant force for several years, moving from President to Prime Minister to continue his hold on power.

But Putin hasn’t a great history; his United Russia Party is losing popularity and voters in droves.

Like all political parties, there comes a time when they peak and the people want change.

That is what is happening in Russia.

Allegations have emerged of voting fraud, something which was noticed during the Blair years.

The problem has led ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to say that the Russian authorities must annul the parliamentary vote results and hold a new election.

An extraordinary statement by Mikhail Gorbachev!

Thousands of security forces have taken to Moscow's streets in a bid to maintain order as people for a third day have caused unrest.

He said:

“More and more people are starting to believe that the election results are not fair. I believe that ignoring public opinion discredits the authorities and destabilises the situation. Authorities must admit that there have been numerous falsifications and ballot stuffing.”

However, it is unlikely that a new election will be held in such a poisonous atmosphere which could see a voter collapse for United Russia as swing voters change their mind.

So far, 250 protesters have been arrested in clashes in central Moscow.

To tighten security over 51,000 troops are now on high alert on the capital's streets over potential further trouble.

And in a bad sign, the Police have detained the leader of the opposition Yabloko party, Sergei Mitrokhin during protests in Triumphal Square, Moscow.

Putin has ordered that these protests should be quashed and Russians aren’t best known for diplomacy.

In an Arab Spring type scenario troops joined the fray to block off Triumphal Square last night as running battles take place between demonstrators, who were chanting 'Putin is a crook and a thief.'

Pro-government United Russia supporters have also rallied across town in Revolution Square near the Kremlin.

This is so much like we have seen in Arab and Western countries, were protestors against the government occupy a square only to be crushed by troops.

And typically among those arrested is the leader of the opposition Yabloko party, Sergei Mitrokhin, Boris Nemtsov, a liberal leader, prominent radical Eduard Limonov and Oleg Orlov, head of the human rights group Memorial.

This doesn’t look good when such prominent people are arrested; it is a throwback to the dark days of Stalin’s Russia.

Since the result of Sunday's election has been declared independent monitors have described it as 'unfair'.

Not a good sign and Putin’s United Russia is filled with ex KGB and ex FSB personnel.

Interior Ministry forces spokesman Colonel Vasily Panchenkov told the Interfax news agency:

“They (the troops) have just one aim to ensure the security of the citizens.”

The crowds began to gather again last night despite Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin saying any unsanctioned street protests had to be quashed.

The hardline leader's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said:

“The actions of those who hold unsanctioned demonstrations must be stopped in the appropriate way.”

Expect violence, troops are not equipped to handle civil unrest; they are a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

It is not surprising that Putin’s Party has dropped significantly since Putin has authoritarian streak and widespread official corruption is rife.

This is something which can happen in political parties when they think that their popularity will go unchallenged. The middle class elite start to allow discrimination and vote rigging even within their own ranks.

When it becomes public knowledge such parties lose public trust.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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