One «Administrative Resource» Hits Another!
The city of Nizhny Novgorod continues to struggle for the most scandalous elections. Just recently the court decision initiated by the election commission eliminated one of the candidates (Andrei Klementyev ) off the ballot, and the voters demonstrated great success in fighting the criminals striving for power: 30% of the votes in the first round of the elections of the city Mayor were «against everybody»! And it wasn't long before the next scandal burst out. It is very important for understanding the current Russian society and its political system.
During the second round of the Mayor's elections on Sunday, Oct.29, the voters were to choose between the acting Mayor Yuri Lebedev and his opponent Vadim Bulavinov, who is notorious for being strongly supported by Sergei Kiriyenko, the President's Representative in the Central Federal District. According to the reports of the press based on the turnout rate the elections were considered valid as of the end of the day. But it was during the night when the surprises came.
During the night in Nizhny the court started to examine the results of elections before the vote count was over (the court decision was made before the crime had been commited!).
The polling stations were closed and the poll workers started to count the ballots. The candidates were pretty close, and 97% of the ballots got counted. According to some sources, Vadim Bulavinov was ahead of Yuri Lebedev by the minimum of 0.38%. And it was in this situation that the court bailiffs arrived at some polling stations and started to seal up the boxes both with the already counted and with the uncounted ballots. It turned out that at 1:00 PM on Sunday the Nizhny Novgorod District Court had held its session to review the appeal of Vadim Bulavinov claiming Yuri Lebedev for using his «administrative resource» (the possibility to abuse his capacity as the Mayor in office).
At what day and hour exactly Bulavinov introduced his appeal and what the exact decision of the court was - it is still hard to say. However, the very experienced judge T. Yu. Vavilycheva, who had decided on taking Andrei Klementyev off the ballot, was able to make such an important decision despite of Sunday and to complete all the procedures in such a way that the bailiffs were able to start their work at the polling stations only two hours later. Even though they did not have the drawn judicial decision at hand and were not able to produce any writ of execution. By the way, according to the Russian law, they were supposed to be off duty on Sunday. After all that can anyone claim that we cannot ensure the effectiveness of the judicial system? We can when we want to!
So in the course of the Nizhny Novgorod Mayor elections we've been witnessing the attempt to resolve the conflict between two «administrative resources», not the elections of an efficient city manager who would be able to make the citizens' life easier. Isn't that a pretty ostensive and even striking evidence of the principles of our election system?
On one hand, Vadim Bulavinov accuses Yuri Lebedev of using his capacity as the acting Nizhny Novgorod Mayor (influencing the election administrators with the purpose of falsification of protocols of the precinct and the territorial commissions). And inded the Mayor can influence the commissions by distributing the budgets, allocation of the housing, providing the transport and the benefits.
On the other hand it's evident the President's Representative in the Volga Federal District (Kiriyenko), who has got a lot more vehicles to influence the courts and the prosecutor's office. Only a very strong influence (pressing?) could force the judge to call the session on Sunday afternoon! And only a very strong influence could force the bailiffs to rush to execute the court judgement on a Sunday night, and not within a month, which is a usual practice!
Who wins? That's the main intrigue of the election campaign. Isn't is just fascinating? The question is - who is fascinated? Big boys are playing politics, but practice shows that the citizens are less and less interested in the results of their game.
And it is absolutely unclear, how the two «administrative resources» dared to fight in the presence of the federal «administrative resource» Because despite the fact that the Law does not allow Central Election Commission to have any influence over the local elections, CEC delegated its member Sergei Danilenko to represent its interests in Nizhny - with a team. According to Chairman Veshnyakov's words - «to be personally responsible for ensuring the validity of the second round of elections».
What will turn out of all this?
Unfortunately, nothing good, because Nizhny Novgorod failed one more time to demonstrate honest and fair elections. So what? This city has always been known as a pilot site for our reformers.
A. Firsov, S. Kolesnik