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December 02, 2007

Big Surprise In Russia

Putin's party won.

Many Russians complained Sunday about being pressured to cast their ballots, with teachers, doctors and others saying they had been ordered by their bosses to vote at their workplaces.

"People are being forced and threatened to vote; otherwise they won't get their salaries or pensions," said Boris Nemtsov, leader of the liberal Union of Right Forces party.

Dozens of voters reported being paid to cast ballots for United Russia, said Alexander Kynev, a political expert with election monitoring group Golos. In the town of Pestovo in the western Novgorod region, voters complained they were given ballots already filled out for United Russia, he said.

In Chechnya, where turnout was over 99 percent, witnesses reported seeing election authorities filling out and casting voter ballots in the suburbs of the regional capital, Grozny.

There was a tense, subdued mood at some polling stations. Yelena, a 32-year-old manager in St. Petersburg, refused to give her last name out of fear of official retaliation for voting for the liberal Yabloko party.

"We live in a country with an absence of democracy and freedom of speech," she said.

Many voters were reluctant to discuss their vote a shift since the late 1980s, when Russians complained loudly about their government. One elderly woman, a veteran of a defense research institute, refused to give her name and only admitted that she had voted for Yabloko when she was certain no one else was listening.

The authorities, she said, would not let Yabloko win seats.

"That's why we have about 300 fools, I'm sorry to say, in our Duma," she said. "And I don't believe Putin: He is an ordinary man, we must not give him absolute power."

Too late for that, Grandmother.

Meanwhile in Venezuela, the result of Chavez's referendum which would eliminate term limits (installing him as totalitarian) remains to be seen.


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posted by Laura. at 09:35 PM

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