‘They treat us like shit’
During the last Duma elections in December 2007 I was an election observer on behalf of the Communists. In the days before the voting I went to the homes of old people not strong enough to make the trip to the polling station. Some of them would tell me their life stories, and why they were voting for United Russia or the Communists (KPRF); others would ask for advice on who to vote for, which I declined to give. During the actual voting I counted the number of people who cast ballots. I counted around eight hundred; so did the other observers, give or take. But the head of our election committee, a woman in her fifties from United Russia, left without giving us a chance to sign the protocols, and when we looked at the official results a few days later the total was closer to a thousand. It would be hard to imagine that the extra two hundred weren’t for United Russia. I filed a complaint with the Communists; I was ready to go to court, tell the truth etc. They kept putting me off. Eventually I stopped calling. They’d made their peace with it – presumably by trading their loss of votes (the KPRF usually does better than reported) for some kind of later consideration, and maybe cash – and I would have to make mine. There was some online discussion, some thought of taking to the streets, but eventually things died down.