Russia: “Dirty Tricks” and Opinion Polls

Ten day to go before the Russian Duma election, and here is the third quick blogosphere roundup (the first one is here, the second one – here).

Dmitri Minaev of De Rebus Antiquis Et Novis reports on the “dirty tricks” used in this year's campaign. Here is one:

I was told yesterday of new leaflets posted on the walls in one of the districts of Samara. The text was like this: “Dear citizens, the Union of the Rightist Forces (SPS) informs you that we have asked AIDS-infected people to participate in our campaign to disseminate printed materials and to participate in the public opinion polls as interviewers. Please, be tolerant towards them.”

Considering the AIDS-phobia, imagine the reaction of the average people when an SPS interviewer would knock their doors… I've never heard of such tricks before.

And here are a few more, from Dmitri's rather comprehensive follow-up post:

[…] In St.Petersburg, the city officials campaign for the pro-Putin Yedinaya Rossiya (United Russia) even in churches. When the activists of Fair Russia asked about 10,000 citizens of St.Petersburg whether they felt any kind of pressure from the officials demanding them to vote for United Russia, 35% said yes, and 32% more said that they heard such stories from their friends or relatives. In Mozhaisky Military Academy the students are informed that their future job will depend on who they vote for. Workers of kindergardens report that the officials oblige them to participate in advance voting and to fill the election bulletins at work, in the presence of the superiors. The Vaileostrovsky regional health service offices demand the physicians to carry on propaganda for the United Russia. The local administration of Kalininsky district threatened to fire the school teachers who will not vote for the UR.

The director-manager of the “Siberian Coal Energy Company” Alexander Loginov received the following letter from the Kemerovo regional office of the United Russia:

“Your refusal to financially aid the the regional office of United Russia in the election campaign to the 5th State Duma is considered as a refusal to support President V. V. Putin and his creative policy.

I feel obliged to inform the President's Administration and the Governor of Kemerovo region on your position.”

The letter is written on the official blank of United Russia, has the signature of the regional party leader, the official stamp and the registration number. […]

This last item has been the subject of discussion on other blogs, too.

La Russophobe provides the translation of the letter – as well as one Russian blogger's commentary (LJ user sergeyhudiev):

I don’t know whether V.V. Putin would be pleased to have his name used as part of a racketeering/”ironing” enterprise. Perhaps he would not be pleased – judging from his comments about “impostors” (prokhodimtsi). This is, however, an unavoidable consequence of his cult of personality – this is the identity the impostors will use for their fraudulent ends. And it is for this purpose that a cult is established.

TOL's Elections in Russia offers more details on the letter scandal:

[…] It turns out that the executive director of the Siberian coal company, Alexander Loginov, has worked in the coal mines all his life and is a traditional supporter of the left wing parties. […]

Siberian Light reports that, judging by the results of Levada Center's opinion poll, “only two of the ‘major’ parties are likely to scrape together the seven percent of votes needed to gain any seats in the Duma – United Russia, and Communist Party of the Russian Federation.”

LJ user drugoi, a top-ranking Russian blogger, has conducted a poll of his own (RUS) on his blog – and the results are quite different.

If the Russian electorate was comprised of bloggers reading drugoi‘s journal, then three parties out of eleven would make it into the next Duma – SPS/Union of Right Forces (15.9% – 892 votes), Yabloko (8.6% – 484 votes), and Vladimir Putin's United Russia (7.0% – 391 votes). Although the Communists aren't among these three, they are really close, just two votes behind the United Russia: 6.9% – 389 votes.

The percentage figures in drugoi‘s poll are, of course, misleading – primarily because bloggers who are going to skip the vote altogether (31.2% – 1755 votes) or to spoil their ballot (18.1% – 1017 votes) are counted along with those who plan to cast their votes for a certain party.

But, as LJ user turchanovo wrote in a comment, “any sample is representative. What matters is what exactly it is representative of.”

Overall, this polling post by drugoi has received nearly 600 comments (RUS), and below are a couple of them:


Internet audience is the most passive. “I will not go to the polling station” means that the government will be chosen for you by your grandmother – who has been instructed by the TV who the right candidate is. […]



It'd be interesting to conduct this kind of an opinion poll – “Among your acquaintances, is there one person who is voting for [the United Russia]?”, “Are there two people…?”, et cetera.


Why get yourself disappointed in people? :)



Isn't there an “against all” option at the Duma election?


Not anymore.


No wonder I've a feeling that something's missing! :)


P.S. I hope they'll at least keep this option at the presidential election?


They've canceled it everywhere.



Soon there'll be a “FOR EVERYONE!” voting option :)


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