More than 150,000 Russian citizens living in Donbass remote voted electronically in the Russian parliamentary elections held from 17 to 19 September 2021, which saw numerous attempts at interference and provocations of all kinds.
Donbass residents cast massive electronic votes in Russian parliamentary elections
While some find many flaws in electronic voting (such as the possibility of increased fraud), it must be acknowledged that without this possibility, the Donbass residents who have Russian citizenship would have had a much harder time participating in the 2021 Russian parliamentary elections.
Indeed, according to figures provided by the Chairman of the Human Rights Council’s Commission for International Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights, Kirill Vyshinsky, by the afternoon of 19 September more than 150,000 Donbass residents had already remote voted electronically in the Russian parliamentary elections of the weekend.
“It is clear that some of the figures can only be described as approximate due to the fact that some of the people living in the DPR and LPR who received Russian passports were already registered on Russian territory beforehand and took part in the elections, being able to vote not only for the federal party lists, but also for local candidates. But according to the information provided by the CEC […], by 3:45 p.m., more than 150,000 people had remote voted. I repeat, this figure is very approximate, it shows how the Donbass remote voted,” noted Kirill Vyshinsky.
Knowing that in the DPR alone about 250,000 people were eligible to vote in these Russian parliamentary elections, it was clear that it was impossible to get everyone to vote in the Rostov region in three days, even with the more than 800 buses provided free of charge by the Republic to travel to Russia. From the first day, several thousand DPR residents travelled to Russia to vote in person.
In order to allow as many people as possible to remote vote electronically, the DPR also provided information centres in all towns and districts with several computers, so that those who did not have one at home could still vote without having to travel to Russia.
Unsurprisingly, this massive participation of the Donbass inhabitants in the Russian legislative elections provoked a stupid reaction and an even more stupid statement from the Ukrainian side. Alexey Arestovich, adviser to the Ukrainian President’s Chief of Staff, Vladimir Zelensky, and member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group, said that Ukraine would punish those who participated in the elections once the region was back under Kiev’s control.
Thus, according to Arestovich, the responsibility for the vote of residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions “will depend on their involvement in the process”.
“There are people who are obliged to do so in order not to be fired. State officials (…), there are people who volunteered and went,” he said.
He noted that those who voted voluntarily in the Russian parliamentary elections should consider fleeing Donbass, as they would be prosecuted in Ukraine for aiding the enemy.
“We will separate the wheat from the chaff. We will treat each case separately. I am fully convinced that ordinary people will not suffer,” he added.
This statement is stupid in many ways. First of all, nobody forced the Donbass people to vote in these Russian parliamentary elections. To imagine that more than 150,000 people could have been forced to vote when they did so remote electronically is comical. This rhetoric is just as stupid as the rhetoric trying to make people in the DPR and LPR believe that they are obliged to apply for Russian citizenship.
I recall that in December 2018, four months before Vladimir Putin signed the decree allowing the Donbass inhabitants to obtain Russian citizenship in a simplified way, a poll conducted in the DPR showed that 89.1% of the Republic’s inhabitants wanted to obtain Russian citizenship, that is almost 9 out of 10 inhabitants! Only 3.5% of people did not want to obtain Russian citizenship and 7.4% found it difficult to answer.
Russian parliamentary elections marked by provocations and attempted interference
On the first day of the Russian parliamentary elections, DDoS attacks against the online voting site were reported from the US, Germany and Ukraine. Other attacks targeted the IT infrastructure of the Central Electoral Commission, including the website showing the results, slowing down the display of the results (which the Western media underlined as a suspicious point without taking into account the impact of the cyberattacks).
In total, more than 950 cyberattacks were recorded and blocked by Russian computer security specialists, allowing the vote to proceed smoothly.
In addition to the attempts to disrupt the vote through cyberattacks, there were also attempts to artificially inflate the number of recorded violations. For example, out of 5,125 messages about possible violations found by the United Russia Young Guard, only 94 could be confirmed. Clearly, more than 5,000 were forgeries, mainly in Moscow, Krasnodar Kray and the Sverdlovsk region.
The head of the working group on public observation of remote electronic voting of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, Alexander Malkevich, reported that in three days of the elections another 14,000 false reports of violations were detected.
The Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation confirmed 12 cases of ballot box stuffing in Adygea, Kalmykia, North Ossetia, Bryansk, Ivanovsakaya, Kemerovo, Moscow and Saratov. In each case the ballot papers of the polling station concerned were invalidated, and the police were sent in. In Adygea, Bryansk and Kemerovo regions, the chairpersons of the local electoral commissions were simply fired.
The situation in St. Petersburg, where “clones” of a Yabloko candidate (with the same name and surname, and a very similar physique) appeared, and where violations took place, was harshly commented on by the chairwoman of the Russian Central Electoral Commission, Ella Pamfilova, who did not hesitate to speak of a fifth column within the local commission, and called for the situation to be brought back under control.
While there were of course some violations, a number were fabricated by the non-systemic opposition, including Navalny’s collaborators.
For example, the police broke into a flat that had been converted into a “polling station”, with a ballot box bearing the Russian coat of arms, copies of ballot papers everywhere, and enough material to film a video showing “violations”. In the phones of the people who were there, they found the phone number of the person who organised this fake factory: Navalny’s assistant, Ilya Pakhomov!
In addition to the police video, the anonymised minutes of the interrogation of one of the people arrested were leaked.
Another type of fake: an observer from the Yabloko party in Moscow claimed that he had been beaten, with a photo of his face. Problem: he was filmed “painting” his face with fake blood.
An observer from the same party as Anastasia Tokareva, who attended the famous conference to teach future “observers” how to be ejected from polling stations in order to artificially inflate the number of violations recorded during the Russian legislative elections.
Moreover, another video was leaked showing how the Golos (foreign agent in Russia) movement trained “observers” in Moscow. Again the presenter tells them that there will be fewer violations this year and that they will have to make provocations!
We declare that our elections are illegitimate. A lot of work is being done this year, so our predictions are that there will not be a large number of violations recorded. Our job is to work harder, to create as much informational noise as possible,” says the presenter.
“Take pictures of the polling stations, make videos. Our lawyers will look at absolutely every case and help you find a solution. The main thing is not to be afraid, the election commissioners are more afraid of you. You can see the most basic cases in the manuals that are given to you”, the young man continues.
As in the first video, at the end of the “training” these “observers” are given a “manual” of the perfect little provocateur, to create non-existent violations from scratch, and the logo of the ODIHR (the OSCE office in charge of observing the elections) appears visibly on the presentation projected on the screen!
But maybe they will still tell us that they had nothing to do with it. The Russian Federation’s investigative committee really needs to look into these videos and determine the role of the ODIHR in these observer “trainings”. Because if they are involved it means that the OSCE is interfering in the Russian elections!
Unsurprisingly, the Yabloko party, which is involved in these provocations, does not recognise the results of the Russian legislative elections (it must be said that with its score of 1.34%, which does not allow it to have deputies in the Duma, the result is very far from satisfactory in view of the “efforts” they have made to spoil the elections).
Comically enough, while Yabloko is lumping together United Russia and the Communist Party, Ms Pamfilova is going to appeal to the leader of this party, Gennady Zyuganov, about the deplorable behaviour of several of its members in the polling stations.
In any case, the United Russia party with 49.82% of the list vote and 198 constituencies won in the single-member vote is expected to win at least 315 of the 450 seats in the Duma, a clear majority (70% of deputies).