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Kathleen O'Toole, News Service (650) 725-1939; e-mail:

Allegations of election fraud in Russia were ignored, scholar says

Communist Party complaints of election ballot fraud in Russia's March presidential elections were ignored but should have been taken seriously, John Dunlop, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, said May 12, during the 14th annual Stanford-Berkeley Conference on Russia and Eastern Europe. About 115 people attended the day-long conference in Tresidder Union, which focused this year on questions of law and justice in the region, both historically and now.

Dunlop said his experience as an international observer of Russian elections in 1995 and 1996 taught him that the Communist Party was the most attentive to poll watching. They assigned competent poll watchers to each precinct, something other parties could not manage, he said.

Immediately after the presidential election this March, Communist Party officials tried to present evidence of serious ballot box fraud in nine regions, Dunlop said, but they were ignored. If Russia's Central Election Commission had taken the complaints seriously, he said, there might have been a recount in those regions, followed by runoff elections, with the same election outcome but with more respect for election laws.

Among the election irregularities reported were cases of computer tallies that did not come close to matching precinct tallies and the closed-precinct voting of 80 to 90 percent of Russia's military personnel. "Moscow sent 580,000 ballots to Chechnya for 460,000 voters, including 100,000 military personnel," he said.

Communist Party officials did not appeal the election results to the courts. In public statements, leaders of that party and others whose candidates did not win indicated they did not believe they could find independent justice in Russian courts.

The joint conference was presented by the Stanford Center for Russian and East European Studies and the Institute for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies at the University of California-Berkeley.


By Kathleen O'Toole

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