Will The Forthcoming Elections Be Fair?
Review of the Article
Newspaper «Argumenty i Fakty»
October 20, 1999
Alexander Veshnyakov, Chairman, Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation
- Alexander Albertovich, do you feel responsible for «building» a new political elite in Russia?
- Who will get the seats and which seats - is not for us to decide. I always repeat that the main judge at elections is not the electoral commission and not even the Supreme Court, but the voter.
- But the voter will choose from those approved by you...
- We will approve everyone who abides the law. As yet, only LDPR was denied registration. And they deserved it. Probably, those who set up the candidate list thought that no one would dare to stop the «oldest party».
- There was no serious reaction of the candidates to your talks about legitimacy of the lists and the reporting about income and property ...
- Bad for the candidates... Now they know well that we will follow the law in earnest. Don't you think it's important for us that all our good words be reinforced by real deeds? The Central Election Commission will try to do that.
- But those reports are full of lies and falsifications. The candidates transfer their money to their family members. After that, they seem «clean and clear» in front of the electorate.
- Let us reason logically. The candidate himself provides information on his income. The Ministry for Internal Affairs, the State Road Police Department, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (in case of citizenship issue) verify this information. We get official results. It may happen so that the candidate has already transferred everything to his family members. Of course, then the verification will record that the candidate has no car, no apartment - nothing! Then this data is published. The voter will conclude that the candidate is lying. Why would anyone entrust a liar with power?
- Candidates and voters (some of them, naturally) believe the existing situation to be quite advantageous for the CEC. Meaning - the CEC can give permission or ban at will.
- Our main protection from such accusations is the unprecedented accessibility for mass media. Each our discussion takes place with dozens of journalists present. At the meetings, I am always saying that verification results should be made public. We have 225 district election commissions, 2,700 territorial election commissions and 93,000 precinct election commissions! And no one should have a reason to think that the CEC in the person of its Chairman declares one thing and then does another. We do what we say.
- Don't you think that the current dirty laundry tossing can prove to be the death of all our elections? There are no decent candidates!
- Elections are still the most progressive principle of power formation in the world. We should not panic - we should put this system in order. We can fight against «mud slinging» ourselves. Only candidates, electoral associations, blocs registered in the federal list have the right to campaign. Moreover, they are allowed to do it only at the expense of electoral funds which limits are restricted. If someone campaigns besides these resources, the CEC will consider it a violation of the law.
- Why do you think many people are so eager to get into power? They probably feel that one has only rights and no responsibilities there...
- The time for responsibility has already come. The CEC of the RF together with regional election commissions will do their best to leave no doubt about the election results. Observers will watch the electoral process including vote counting. TV cameras will record the process. After that, all these documents will be published, and it will be quite easy to compare the results. In case of any contradictions it will be easy to identify the reason. As for forgery, it's a criminal matter, as you very well know.
- Can you influence the voters who vote for a bottle of vodka?
- If a voter allows himself to be bought for a bottle of vodka, then what can be done? Anyway, the wicked leadership will punish him. Other possible wiles are being eliminated.
- Why is it so complicated to nominate a candidate? In the Far East, candidates from Moscow and Saint Petersburg may appear...For instance, in the USA every candidate must reside in his state for a certain period of time.
- I have been really surprised to discover that the Russian electoral system is more liberal than the American one. In the RF, one may stand as a candidate wherever he wants. The Federal law is more progressive - it sets bounds to the development of separatist tendencies.
- And, nevertheless, criminals are likely to get into the State Duma...
- For example, Dmitry Yakubovsky was included into the LDPR list having two convictions. After publishing and receiving a negative reaction towards his criminal background, he did the right thing - he himself withdrew his candidacy.
- Frankly speaking, everything looks like a big political comedy.
- The CEC of the RF is doing its best in order to make the whole situation not to look as a big political tragedy.
- The present registration in the CEC resembles some kind of an examination session where would-be candidates look rather pitiful. Does it flatter you?
- No, quite on the contrary. I feel awkward having high-placed officials explain themselves. The reason for this confusion is imperfection of the Russian legislation that emphasizes the drawbacks of Russian laws.
- Is it possible to make the elections cheap?
- In Russia, the elections cannot be called expensive. The budget spends 1,4 million rubles on them.
- What relationships with the would-be President or Prime Minister are you likely to have after the elections?
- I hope that they will be as decent with us as we are decent with them now.
- Do you agree with the statement that for the candidates these «exams» are more demanding than the elections themselves?
- I think so. To my mind, the passing of this law through the State Duma was vital for the Russian Federation.
- Will the new Duma need the deputies from the previous one?
- A deputy should be a professional in the legislative process. On one hand, if new people come to every new convocation, there will be no professionalism. But on the other hand, we really need fresh brains and ideas.
- What leader should Russia elect?
- It should elect the one that will not deceive his voters' expectations. Decent and well-educated.
- What personal drawbacks do you allow him to have?
- There are no perfect people in the world. The main thing is his desire to make the country happy. Who knows? Maybe a person like this will become our President.