Russia probes vote after massive protest

2011-12-11 22:43

kalahari.com

Moscow - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday ordered election officials to check reports of vote fixing following a national protest over an election that handed a disputed victory to the ruling party.

Medvedev said he flatly disagreed with the idea of staging fresh elections but had already issued instructions for a closer look at the reports of rampant ballot stuffing and cases of officials fixing the vote count.

"I disagree with the slogans and declarations made at the meetings," the tech-savvy Medvedev wrote in his Facebook account.

"Nevertheless, I have issued instructions to check all polling station reports about [failure] to follow election laws," Medvedev wrote.

Saturday's historic demonstrations near the Kremlin saw more than 50 000 people deride the outcome of December 4 elections that were widely seen as a litmus test for Vladimir Putin's planned return to the presidency next year.

The protests were the largest to hit the Russian capital since the tumultuous 1990s and levelled some of the most intense political pressure at Putin since he first rose to the presidency in 2000.

The former KGB agent currently serves as prime minister after making Medvedev his hand-picked presidential successor in 2008 and intends to return to the Kremlin for up to 12 more years in March elections that he appears destined to win.

But scenes similar to those witnessed on Saturday in Moscow were also replayed on a smaller scale across the industrial hubs of Siberia and the Urals - a sign that Putin's path back may be more fraught than it first appeared.

Putin stayed out of the limelight over the weekend while his spokesperson issued a carefully-worded statement that sounded a cautiously conciliatory note.

Stamp out protests

"We respect the point of view of the protesters. We are hearing what is being said and we will continue to listen to them," Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in the overnight statement.

Medvedev's own comments suggest the two leaders - seen as close allies despite the president's more liberal reputation - are keen to quickly stamp out the most serious political flare-up of Putin's 12-year rule.

But Medvedev fell far short of satisfying the opposition's main demand to stage new elections.

Former cabinet minister turned Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov called Medvedev's Facebook message "a mockery".

"These are worthless instructions... that are not going to calm anyone down," Nemtsov told Moscow Echo radio.

Rally organisers have already threatened to return to the same Moscow square en masse on December 24 and possibly to hold smaller rallies at various locations before then.

Yet analysts point to a series of small but significant changes in state policy in the past few days that hint at serious official concern about the public discontent.

One of Saturday's biggest surprises came in the evening when state TV - scorned by the internet community for its ban on coverage of post-election unrest - took the unusual step of leading its news broadcasts with rallies.

A Kremlin source told the popular gazeta.ru news site that the decision to run the mainly-balanced reports was taken by Medvedev himself.

People in the provinces

The Kremlin source added that Medvedev had also instructed the Moscow police to handle the protesters "extremely gently" after seeing more than 1 000 activists bundled away by riot police the previous week.

But dozens of people were still arrested in the regions as officials scrambled to respond to the re-emergence of political activity in cities that had stayed quiet since the early post-Soviet times.

"This is an entirely new situation. This is a lot of people for the provinces," said Alexey Malashenko of the Carnegie Moscow Centre.

The biggest regional rallies saw some 5 000 people come out in Novosibirsk - Russia's third largest city and the heart of Siberia - and the industrial hub of Chelyabinsk that Stalin developed in the Ural Mountains in the 1930s.

"This is the start of a new stage," said Yevgeny Gontmakher of the Institute of Contemporary Development centre set up by Medvedev in 2008.

"People have developed a taste for mass demonstrations and are now ready to rise up in response to anything," Gontmakher said.

Analysts said rapid social change and the internet's growing penetration in Russia may have caught Kremlin strategists off guard after a decade in which they could mould public opinion through state-controlled media.

"The elections are approaching and people's trust is low," said Carnegie analyst Malashenko. "This means that the ruling class has to think about how it should behave next."

Read more on:    dmitry medvedev  |  vladimir putin  |  russia  |  russia elections  |  russia protests
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Madonsela to probe ANC food-for-votes claims

Public protector Thuli Madonsela has launched an investigation into whether the ANC has used state resources for its electoral campaign, says a report.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300

Keep it together Text. Email. Social. With all the different ways to...

From R1399.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.