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Russian Citizens Prepare Mass Lawsuits Against Election Commissions

Source: (info), 13/03/12

· Electoral rights  · The Courts

Several hundred Russian citizens who were unable to obtain absentee ballots are getting ready to sue the Election Commissions in their districts. According to and, the plaintiffs claim that the Election Commissions’ actions violated their constitutional rights and they are demanding a million roubles in damages. Civic activist Daniil Lindele, who has published a template for a statement to bring a lawsuit of this kind, has explained that since the plaintiffs come from different regions, they will not be able to file a class action suit.

Right before the presidential elections, absentee ballots disappeared from many voting stations. Lindele believes that absentee ballots were distributed among state institution workers, who were then driven to the voting stations. According to the head of the Moscow Regional Election Commission, Irek Vildanov, people asked for the absentee ballots under pressure from their bosses at work. This was why there were no absentee ballots remaining a few days before the election. On the day of the elections, Vildanov stated: “People have been begging for these ballots on their knees saying that they would lose their job if they don’t bring the absentee ballots to work”.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the Supreme Court declined to accept a complaint by Aleksandr Lebedev, a member of the Just Russia party, who tried to challenge the results of the presidential elections. According to his calculations, 237,000 votes were falsified as a result of the voting at home. According to Lebedev, no one noticed the numerous votes that materialized “literally out of the thin air”. In support of his claims, Lebedev pointed to public information provided by Central Election Commission.

However, the Central Election Commission stated that Lebedev’s interpretation was wrong. Elena Dubina, a member of the Central Election Commission, insisted that Lebedev’s interpretation of the data “is entirely unprofessional”. She described Lebedev’s claims as an “an emotional outburst”.

The associations of election observers are planning to issue detailed instructions for citizens who wish to file complaints concerning election fraud. Specifically, these instructions will help to file complaints concerning violations that are difficult to identify, such as the so–called “carousels” and voting using additional voter lists at enterprises that work round the clock.

The election observers are also counting on help from the former presidential candidates. Grigory Melkoniants made the following statement: “ We know from our experience of the Duma elections that the courts refuse to accept complaints on the grounds that the plaintiffs didn’t suffer any violations of their rights. It would be very helpful if the candidate Ziuganov or the candidate Prokhorov would at least agree to become plaintiffs themselves”.

In addition, associations of observers plan to draw up lists of the election violations observed by the parties. There will probably be a unified database that will allow the number of filed complaints to be counted, and to draw conclusions from the responses of the courts. A register of complaints will be added to the Map of Violations. Melkoniants stressed that it is important to file complaints not only in Moscow but also in the regions remote from the capital.