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Russian presidential election, 2004: Map

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Presidential elections were held in Russiamarker on March 14, 2004. Incumbent Vladimir Putin was seeking a second full four-year term. He was re-elected with 71.31% of the vote.

Results

Candidates

Sergey Glazyev

Glazyev was Minister for Foreign Trade under Boris Yeltsin, a Communist member of the State Duma and in 2003 he became co-chairman of the newfound Rodina Bloc party. But he failed to be nominated by his party, because of power struggle with Dmitri Rogozin, and ran as independent candidate.

He campaigned as a critic of economic reforms. He argued that post-Communist governments have ignored social justice and promised to improve welfare.

Irina Khakamada

Khakamada, the daughter of a Japanese Communist who took Sovietmarker citizenship in the 1950s, emerged as Putin's most outspoken critic. A member of the State Duma for eight years, she was defeated in 2003. She is a member of the Union of Right Forces, but did not run as a party candidate. "I am not afraid of the terrorists in power," she told the daily newspaper Kommersant. "Our children must grow up as free people. Dictatorship will not be accepted."

Nikolay Kharitonov

Kharitonov was the candidate of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, although he is not actually a Party member. A former KGBmarker colonel, he is a member of the Agrarian Party of Russia, an ally of the Communist Party. He was put forward after Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov declined to stand for a third time.

Oleg Malyshkin

Malyshkin,was nominated by the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, after the party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who contested the last two presidential elections, chose not to run again. Malyshkin, a mining engineer, has been an LDPR member since 1991 and the head of security of Vladimir Zhirinovsky. He was elected to the State Duma in 2003.

Sergey Mironov

Mironov is Speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament. He is considered a loyalist to Vladimir Putin, and prior to launching his campaign has expressed his support to Putin's candidacy.

Vladimir Putin

Putin, formerly prime minister, was elected President in 2000, and ran for the second term. His popularity since then remained quite high, thanks to economic stability and despite controversies on media freedoms. He refused United Russia's invitation to be nominated as party candidate and ran as independent.

Criticisms of election

General comments

According to the ad hoc Committee by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, "the elections were generally well administrated and reflected the consistently high public approval rating of the incumbent president but lacked elements of a genuine democratic contest."

"While on a technical level the election was organized with professionalism, particularly on the part of the Central Election Commission (CEC), the election process overall did not adequately reflect principles necessary for a healthy democratic election process. The election process failed to meet important commitments concerning treatment of candidates by the State-controlled media on a non-discriminatory basis, equal opportunities for all candidates and secrecy of the ballot," reported observers by Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. "Localised instances of election-related abuse of official function, whilst met with an appropriately robust response by the electoral authorities in some instances, reflected a lack of democratic culture, accountability and responsibility, particularly in areas distant from the capital."

Observers representing the Commonwealth of Independent States recognized the election as "free, democratic and fair". The head of the mission Yury Yarov assured that violations fixed during the mission didn't affect "free expression of the electors' will and result of the election".

Election campaign and conduct

According to report by the ad hoc Committee by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, "The Presidential Election Law and the Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights Law provided the legal framework for the presidential elections, laying down conditions for the transparency in the organisation and conduct of the election." Criticizing the election campaign, the Committee claimed as "unreasonable hurdle" the requirement to collect 2 million signatures for submission to the CEC in support of persons seeking registration as candidates. Another concern was, "The Russian Constitution stipulates that in a presidential election, if the turn-out is less than 50%, a new round has to be held, with candidates registering anew. This clause raised concerns of authorities on voters turnout and a massive campaign encouraging people to participate in elections had been launched by the CEC and local authorities. In some regions, local authorities overused their power to force people to take part in the elections." The election campaign in general was "low-key and all but invisible, which could be explained by the predictability of the results of the election." Glazyev's manager reported the use of administrative resources by preventing Glazyev's campaigning in the regions; Khakamada claimed that "local authorities were instructed to hamper her meetings with voters".

PACE reported that despite some irregularities, "credit should be given to the election administration which ensured security and professional conduct of the voting process". PACE noted the unusually high turnout in five North Caucasus republics (more than 90%), "Mr Putin received 98.2 % of the vote in Ingushetia, 96.5 % in Kabardino-Balkaria, 94,6 % in Dagestan, 92.3% in Chechnya and 91.25% in North Ossetia. Taking into account that the general turnout of the election was only 64,39%, the election results in these regions seem to be unusually high and one-sided." Considering situation in Chechnya, the Moscow Times quoted election officials in the republic's capital, Groznymarker, as acknowledging that they had filled in several thousand ballots for Putin.

Media

According to the report by Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of OSCE,

"Television is the main source of public information in the Russian Federation. Two State-controlled TV channels have countrywide outreach, while the most significant private TV stations are NTV and Ren TV… The State-controlled media comprehensively failed to meet its legal obligation to provide equal treatment to all candidates, displaying clear favouritism towards Mr. Putin. While the other candidates had access to television and other media, through free airtime and televised debates, their access to the primetime news programmes and current affairs programmes on the State-controlled broadcasters was limited… In contrast to the coverage by State-funded TV channels, private broadcasters monitored by the EOM provided more balanced coverage, with a greater diversity of views."

See also



Observers' reports



Other web resources



External links




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