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Published in Press Stream:
September 13, 2015

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Published in Stream:
September 13, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Polls Open in Kostroma Region, Where Opposition is Hopeful, and Observing Closely
4 years
Stream: September 13, 2015
Publication: Russia Update
Detained Open Russia Consultant Released, As State Media Works to Discredit Russian Opposition in Local Elections
The official Russian wire services have been covering the local elections across Russia, but so far RIA Novosti's online coverage, for example, has not mentioned Kostroma, the one region where opposition candidates were finally allowed to register.

Translation: Voters in Buryatia are voting more actively than in Priangarye and Zabaikal (Trans Baikal).

Meanwhile, many foreign reporters and independent media as well as opposition bloggers are all focused on Kostroma.

Leonid Volkov, an opposition activist leading the effort to observe the election who earlier went on a hunger strike to protest the failure to register candidates, published a help line number

Translation: The headquarters has begun to work. If yo have information about violations, or need legal aid or the mobile group, call 88003330295.

Opposition activists who have been associated with Aleksei Navalny have fanned out  in this provincial province whose administrative center, the port of Kostroma is about 350 kilometers northeast of Moscow

Georgy Alburov of the Anti-Corruption Fund was arrested earlier this year and charged with "art theft" for taking a street artist's sketch and giving it to Navalny as a joke present. Even Russia's police chief wrote in a letter inadvertently released to Alburov that he saw no grounds for any charges. Alburov was ultimately fined in the case, like so many, trumped up to harass critics of official corruption.

Translation: At District Election Commission No. 85 in the village of Mikhailovskoye in the Galichsky District, it's quite comfy.

Translation: I came to observe the elections in Kostroma. Excellent organization here, I was assigned to [the town of] Buy.

Translation: Distsrict Election No. 102, city of Galich. The building is collapsing, they're singing Leps on the street : ) It isn't elections that should be held here, but a horror movie should be filmed.

Georgy Leps, a famous Russian singer known as a devout Russian Orthodox believer and supporter of the government is wanted by the US Treasury Department on charges of serving as a money courier for a Eurasian crime syndicate.

One observer followed up on claims of a possible ballot-box stuffing in the making, but it turned out to be a false alarm.

Translation: Resident reported that there were ballots at one of the hotels in Kostroma. We arrived on the scene -- they weren't ballots but the hotel's documents. We're vigilant : )

Translation: I was let into the building at the Territorial Election Commission in the city of Kostroma only with a fight, despite the fact that I am a member of the Territorial Election Commission with the right to a consultative vote. For now everything turned out alright without complaints. Let's see what happens tonight.

The concept of the consultative or advisory vote in the election commission, as in other Russian institutions, means that the individual does not have a vote counted per se, but can weigh in with an opinion and file complaints.

This observer described how the opposition leader Ilya Yashin, a close colleague of the late Boris Nemtsov, came to Kostroma to organize observation of the ballot and support independent candidates.

Translation: The last meeting of @IlyaYashin with voters in this campaign. We conducted 132 of these, we were in every courtyard in Kostroma!

Translation: Hooray! We did it! The meetings were conducted, the campaign is finishing up. What remains is not to allow the crooks to steal the votes of the people of Kostroma!

While the opposition activists attempted to campaign, they faced both official harassment as we reported and has been documented by Novaya Gazeta, as well as some incidents that seemed to have been set up:

Translation: A new form of provocations - they brought in alcoholic bums to the meetings with @IlyaYashin who shouted, "You're all lying, we're for United Russia, give us vodka!"

United Russia is the ruling party that brought Vladimir Putin to power.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick