MOSCOW, March 14 - RAPSI. The announcement of a report casting fresh doubt on the results of Russia’s 2011 parliamentary polls drew a dismissive response from the pro-Kremlin ruling party and the country’s top election official on Wednesday, while also causing a flurry of speculation about motives, as the study reportedly emerged from a think-tank headed by an official close to President Vladimir Putin.
“The officially announced results are unreliable. United Russia did not take first place,” Stepan Sulakshin, the author of the Moscow-based Governance and Problem Analysis Center’s report, told the RBK Daily newspaper in comments published late on Tuesday. “The Communist Party took first place.”
Sulakshin said the United Russia party had gained 20-25 percent of the vote at the 2011 State Duma polls, compared to the official figure of 49 percent, while the Communists had gained 25-30 percent, significantly more than the 19 percent announced by election officials.
Widespread allegations of vote fraud in favor of then Prime Minister Putin’s United Russia party at the December 4, 2011 parliamentary elections triggered the largest anti-government demonstrations since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Putin stepped down as head of United Russia last May, when he handed over stewardship of the party to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. But commentators suggest he remains closely linked in the eyes of the public to the party, which was successfully branded “the party of crooks and thieves” by opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny.
The head of Russia’s Central Elections Commission, Vladimir Churov – dubbed “the wizard” by opposition figures after the 2011 polls over allegations he had conjured up an unlikely victory for United Russia – also hit out at the report, suggesting its author seek psychiatric assistance. Churov, an unabashed Kremlin loyalist, has frequently said: “Churov’s first law is – Putin’s always right.”
Reaction from the Communist Party was surprisingly muted. There was no reaction from veteran party head, Gennady Zyuganov. Calls to the party’s press office went unanswered as of late Wednesday afternoon.
Vadim Solovyev, the Communist Party’s top lawyer, told journalists the party had also estimated it took around 30 percent of the vote at the 2011 polls. He said the party had not contested the results in court because it did not believe its appeal would get a fair hearing.
The Kremlin has not officially commented on the news of the report, but an administration source told RIA Novosti that anyone dissatisfied with the election results should file complaints with the courts, and “not write reports.”