#11 - JRL 7242
June 27, 2003
CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION TRIES TO RECONCILE POLITICAL OPPONENTS
Political party leaders do not believe the elections can be fair
Author: Olga Tropkina
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
THE CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION BROUGHT TOGETHER LEADERS OF MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES IN ORDER TO DRAFT A SOCIAL COMPACT WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO HELP MAKE THE ELECTIONS TRANSPARENT AND FAIR. BUT THE ATTEMPT TO RECONCILE THE LEADERS FAILED. INSTEAD, THEY STARTED EXCHANGING ACCUSATIONS.
The drafting of a social compact called "Elections 2003", which was initiated yesterday by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) and involved leaders of major political parties, almost resulted in a scandal. The compact, which is supposed to help make elections transparent and fair, is to be signed in August. Yesterday the leaders of political parties discussed draft documents and nominated their candidates for the arrangement committee.
CEC Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov and Director of Free Elections Foundation Andrei Przhezdomsky, who chaired the meeting, did their best to keep the party leaders from exchanging accusations that threatened to cause offense - but they failed. The party leaders did not try to conceal their skepticism toward the proposal of the CEC.
According to Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party has always been the victim of dirty election campaign tactics, and it does not expect things to change for the better this year, no matter what compacts participants in the elections would sign ahead of the election campaign.
Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhrinovsky has some reservations about the CEC, for he believes its staffed as a result of a deal between several factions. According to a statement made by Zhirinovsky, there can be no question of clean and fair elections when post offices open post cards with congratulations on Victory Day (May 9).
sent by the Party and write foul things in them. Sergei Mitrokhin who was representing Yabloko Party expressed concern about the latest election laws proposed by the CEC. He also drew Alexander Veshnyakov's attention to the fact the police have often been engaged in solution of political tasks recently. In his words, police quite often get registered in a number of passport issuing offices and vote for "vagrants and drug-takers". He pointed out that Yabloko would certainly sign the compact but its honest fulfillment by "sheep and wolves" is impossible. Deputy speaker of the Duma Artur Chilingarov adjusted the metaphor putting it like "wolves and bears".
Union of Right Forces leader Boris Nemtsov stated that his party has no illusions regarding fairness of the forthcoming elections. He made a point of the fact that it is necessary to check financing of political parties strictly. Nemtsov observed that political organizations have been privatized by financial and industrial groups on a large scale. Nemtsov could not resist adding some criticism of the United Russia Party. He claimed that Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov gives out party membership cards and receives the party's supporters during working hours.
Head of the general council of United Russia Valery Bogomolov was quite abashed by the hail of critical remarks with regard to his party. But he replied amicably that "one cannot start a good business with bad words", after which he offered to his opponents to live in peace. The majority of the political leaders followed his advice to be out of harm's way and withdrew themselves hastily from the conference hall.
(Translated by Sergei Kolosov)