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Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

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  • Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

    Groups list violations as Kremlin vote nears

    16 hours ago
    MOSCOW (AFP) — Russian authorities came under renewed attack for election-linked violations ahead of Sunday's presidential poll in which Kremlin favourite Dmitry Medvedev faces little competition.
    Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International and Russian election monitoring agency Golos Thursday accused the Kremlin of stage-managing the vote by dominating the media, pressuring regional leaders to ensure a high turn-out, and using state resources to promote Medvedev.
    "In practice the administration is controlling the election," said Lilya Shibanova, the head of Golos.
    In one his last appearances before the poll, Medvedev called on Russians to lead healthier lifestyles and resist alcohol.
    The speech in the Kremlin, like all of his official engagements, was one of the top stories on the national news.
    "It's necessary to implant in the person a responsible attitude to health and in school to study how to resist risk factors like alcohol abuse, narcotic use and smoking," he said.
    Technically he was speaking in his capacity as first deputy prime minister and not campaigning, a practice Transparency decried as an example of "political corruption" whereby the state's resources are used by one candidate.
    According to a Transparency study, Medvedev had more coverage in the national media than his three rivals combined between December 1 and February 15.
    A study by the Centre for Journalism in Extreme Situations said Medvedev received 51.5 percent of election of coverage on state-owned Channel One in January.
    Much of Medvedev's coverage has while on tour of the Russian regions as first deputy prime minister, a practise which the groups criticized as indirect campaigning paid for by the state.
    "Neither the president nor the prime minister is being given the coverage that this bureaucrat is getting," said Golos analyst Alexander Kynev. "He is not campaigning as a candidate, but as an already elected head of state."
    While Medvedev's camp says the speeches and inspections of state-sponsored social projects do not constitute a campaign, in practice "there is no difference," said Transparency International Russia director Yelena Panfilova.
    Medvedev is set to secure 61 percent of the vote on Sunday, with nine percent for his closest rival, according to a survey by the VTsIOM opinion research centre.
    On Friday President Vladimir Putin was due to make a televised pre-election address to the nation.
    In addition to the manipulation of the media, pressure is also being applied directly on voters by local governors, keen to show their loyalty to the Kremlin leadership, Transparency's Panfilova said.
    While the Kremlin does not provide direct orders as to how governors should apply pressure, it has unleashed a burst of "local creativity on how to ensure a 100 percent turn-out," she said.
    The coalition provided a list of complaints phoned into an election hotline to demonstrate how pressure was being applied on the ground.
    One anonymous caller in Moscow described how his employer at a state organization forced him to bring his absentee ballot to work to show who he had voted for. Others described threats of pay cuts or dismissal if voter turnout was not sufficient.
    Golos provided a letter to voters from Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov calling for Muscovites to go out and vote for "Putin's Course" as an example of how state-funded get-out-the-vote campaigns offered thinly disguised support for Medvedev.
    "This campaign is characterized by a level field of violations," Golos director Shibanova said. "The campaign in Moscow is no cleaner than that in the Caucasus."
    So much for Russian Democracy, oh hey and when you combine it with things like the nationalization of their civil and military aviation and very rapid growth in thier military budget... well one has to wonder whats next...
    Time for change

  • #2
    I think the bigger story here might be trying to get Russians to drink less alcohol.
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