Russian election chief criticises US democracy

When Russian protesters took to the streets last year following allegations of mass fraud in the parliamentary elections, Vladimir Churov became a popular hate figure.

Many held the head of the central elections commission responsible for massaged results that had given the ruling United Russia party up to 99% of the vote in some regions of the country.

In a comment widely lampooned by protesters, the then-president Dmitry Medvedev referred to Churov as a “wizard” for his success in predicting the election’s outcome.

As the presidential vote looms in the US, however, Churov has gone on the offensive with his own scathing criticism of American democracy.

“The elections for the president of the USA are not direct, not universal, not equal and do not preserve voting secrecy,” Churov wrote in a 3,600-word article in the state-owned Rossiskaya Gazeta on Wednesday. “It’s a stretch of the imagination to talk about the right of American citizens to choose their president.”

The heavily bearded former physics student attacked: a notable lack of election monitors at US elections; the absence of a centralised electoral co-ordination body; problems with voter registration; difficulties identifying voters at polling stations; poorly protected personal data; and defective counting systems.

The whole democratic process is marred by “complications, decentralisation, politicisation, a lack of transparency and anarchy,” he wrote.

Churov, 59, is known to be close to President Vladimir Putin with whom he worked in St  Petersburg in the 1990s. He has said his first rule is that “Putin is always right.”

Putin has repeatedly attacked foreign groups who try to meddle in internal Russian affairs, accusing opposition protesters of following the orders of the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

Churov concluded his article by suggesting that state pressure had been exerted on “third party” candidates during the US presidential campaign. And he alleged that the practice of heads of companies forcing their employees to vote in accordance with their own wishes was “widespread”.

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