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Kasyanov’s Presidency bid hit by criminal investigation

A criminal investigation has been launched into claims of electoral fraud by leading liberal candidate Mikhail Kasyanov.

Mikhail Kasyanov
Mikhail Kasyanov’s bid for the Russian Presidency appears to have been derailed, following allegations that up to 16% of the 2 million signatures he had collected in support of his nomination are fake.

The allegations, if proved will bring Kasyanov’s candidacy to an abrupt halt. Even if not proved, they will significantly damage his public image – not that he had a particularly positive image to damage in the first place.

Here’s the official view from the Central Election Commission:

“Representatives of presidential candidate Kasyanov received a report at 11:00 a.m. [8:00 a.m. GMT] on the check of the first selection of signatures. Of 400,000 signatures scrutinized, the working group has found 62,265 false or invalid, which is 15.57% of the total.”

Under Russian law, of course, no more than 5% of signatures can be invalid.

Intriguingly, just four hours later it was announced that Andrei Bogdanov, leader of the Democratic Party, had passed the 2 million votes threshold – a mere 3.12 of his supporting signatures were ruled invalid. As it stands, it appears as though he will be the only liberal in a four-strong field of candidates.

Some Random Speculation

Kasyanov, of course, is accusing the Russian authorities of harrassment, and of using dirty tricks in an attempt to derail his campaign. And, to an outside observer, that is, of course, the first thought that springs to mind.

However, although Kasyanov is a former Prime Minister of Russia, he isn’t particularly popular in Russia, and getting 2 million signatures was always going to prove a challenge – let alone 2 million legitimate signatures.

A part of me does wonder just how he managed to get those 2 million signatures, and its feelings like that the Central Election Committee’s will be playing on in making their claims of fraud.

But another thought also occurs. If Kasyanov was finding it tough to get 2 million signatures, how come Andrei Bogdanov, leader of the Democratic Party managed to pull in 2 million signatures with almost no fraud?

The leader of a party who, in December’s national election polled a massive 0.13% of the national vote???

Give me a break.

If I were a cynic, I’d be saying that the Kremlin wanted a pliable no-hoper of a liberal candidate in the Presidential race. That way, they can say to the world “Look! We’re a democracy. There’s a genuine liberal candidate in the Presidential election. And look how few votes he got…!”



    A lesson in media bias – the headline of the CNN International story give us one narrative:

    “Kremlin critic barred from election”

    . And the body of the piece reports quite another:

    “Russia’s Central Election Commission disqualified one of Kremlin’s critics from the country’s presidential election Sunday, claiming that the signatures collected for his nominating petitions were forged, the state news agency said Sunday. .

    “Kasyanov’s spokeswoman confirmed to CNN that he had been barred from running in the elections, scheduled for March 2. He will not appeal the decision, a representative told Interfax.”

    The headline tells us that Russia’s much-touted “backsliding” into totalitarianism is accelerating rather rapidly, while the facts, baldly stated, tell us that, for some reason, Kasyanov isn’t appealing the decision of the authorities to disqualify him, which leads us to wonder if the charges of forgery might be substantially true. Of course, forging signature on election petitions is quite illegal in the US, and would undoubtedly result in criminal charges. Perhaps that’s why Kasyanov isn’t making much of a fuss about the matter.

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