2 of the 3 Losers Criticize Russian Election
Monday, March 3, 2008. Issue 3853. Page 4.
2 of the 3 Losers Criticize Election
By Anatoly Medetsky,
By Nikolaus von Twickel and Max Delany
Tatyana Makeyeva / Reuters
Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky
gesturing as he votes with his wife, Galina Lebedeva,
at a polling station in Moscow on Sunday.
Gennady Zyuganov arrived at the press center of his
Communist Party's headquarters a few minutes after
national television started broadcasting initial
results at 9 p.m. Sunday.
The 63-year-old Communist leader looked tense and said
he had been hoping to win. But with some 20 percent of
the vote in early returns, he conceded defeat to
Dmitry Medvedev and promised to go to court.
"If there had been a direct debate, I would have won
this election," he exclaimed loudly.
Medvedev, poised to win a landslide victory after
being endorsed by President Vladimir Putin, refused to
participate in televised debates with Zyuganov and the
other two presidential candidates, Liberal Democratic
Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Andrei Bogdanov,
Zyuganov said his supporters had uncovered numerous
violations and that he should have gotten at least 30
percent of the vote.
"I have a list of 200 violations, each one being more
cynical than the next," he said.
He said he would challenge the results in court.
Zyuganov said he had seen the defeat coming due to the
During his 15-minute speech, Zyuganov also called for
reforms to make the Kremlin more accountable to the
After delivering the speech and taking several
questions, Zyuganov walked to a nearby two-story
yellow mansion that houses the party's headquarters. A
spokesman said Zyuganov "didn't see any point" in
further contact with reporters and denied a reporter
entry to the building at 3 Maly Sukharevsky Pereulok.
Zyuganov, the most popular of the three outside
candidates going into the election, appeared on track
to score significantly better than the 11 percent
projected in the most recent opinion poll by the
independent Levada Center. The poll had a margin of
error of 3 percentage points.
Still, the results were a far cry from 1996, when
Zyuganov trailed the incumbent Boris Yeltsin by a mere
3 percentage points going into a second round of
voting. Zyuganov ended up losing to Yeltsin by 13
percent in the runoff.
In the 2000 election, Zyuganov got 29.21 percent of
the vote, losing to Putin's 52.52 percent. He skipped
the 2004 election after the Communists faired poorly
in Duma elections the previous December. The party
instead fielded Nikolai Kharitonov, who won 14 percent
of the vote. The Communists won 11.57 percent of the
vote in Duma elections last December.
Zhirinovsky -- who looked set to make his best showing
with his fourth presidential bid -- criticized the
election as unfair and insisted that he had beaten
"I know that more people voted for me. A majority of
the civil servants, even a majority of journalists,
voted for me," he said at his party's headquarters on
9 Lukov Pereulok.
Preliminary results gave Zhirinovsky some 12.5 percent
of the vote.
"I had hoped to win three times more votes," he said.
Zhirinovsky also vowed to dispute the results in
"We have always sued even though it is useless, and we
will sue this time too," Zhirinovsky said.
He said the violations were similar to those his
supporters had detected during the Duma elections in
December, but did not elaborate.
Zhirinovsky, however, said it would be useless to
organize street protests.
Reverting to his trademark colorful style, he lashed
out at his rivals. "Medvedev is the official candidate
of power. He gets all the administrative resources,"
"Zyuganov is the old song of communism. And then there
is this tramp," he said, referring to the long-haired
A senior party official said the election results did
not spell the end of Zhirinovsky's career, noting they
were much better than the 2.7 percent he received when
he last ran in 2000. "This man has his electorate,"
the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The 61-year-old veteran politician took third place
with some 8 percent of the vote in 1991 and 5.7
percent in 1996. He opted not to run in 2004, leaving
the job to his former bodyguard Oleg Malyshkin, who
scored 2 percent. His party won 8.14 percent in the
last Duma election.
The recent Levada survey gave Zhirinovsky 9 percent.
On Sunday night, Zhirinovsky loudly complained about
the unfair allocation of airtime on state television.
"I want to serve my electorate. I know they voted for
me, and these numbers are just paper," he said.
Over at Bogdanov's campaign headquarters, the mood was
distinctly relaxed, even though early results showed
he had finished a distant fourth with less than 2
"Before now, absolutely nobody knew who I was. The old
generation of democrats is finished. This is the time
for the new generation," Bogdanov told a small group
of reporters, including about 10 television cameras,
at his headquarters on 18 Poltavskaya Ulitsa.
Holding a plastic cup of vodka, the 38-year-old leader
of the little-known Democratic Party said he was
"satisfied" and "happy" with the result.
He then toasted his young staff of fewer than 15
people before a small, alcohol-heavy buffet was then
made available to party activists and reporters. The
reporters soon became more interested in the beverages
than the candidate.
Alexander Bogdanov, the 28-year-old brother of
Bogdanov and a campaign activist, said his family was
proud. "Of course our family is proud. We all work for
the party anyway," he said. Among the other members of
the family who campaigned was Bogdanov's grandmother.
Bogdanov ran as an independent because his Democratic
Party did not make it into the Duma in December,
capturing around 0.13 percent of the vote, or less
than 90,000 votes. The party, whose roots go back to
the early 1990s and which Bogdanov has headed up since
2005, claims to have more than 75,000 members
nationwide. Bogdanov had to obtain 2 million
signatures to get on the ballot.
The Levada poll indicated he would get about 1
Medvedev, meanwhile, was supposed to arrive at his
campaign headquarters at 11 p.m., but state television
showed live footage of him and Putin attending a rock
concert on Red Square around that time.
The Moscow Times was among media outlets denied
accreditation to Medvedev's campaign headquarters.
Medvedev's spokesman, Alexei Pavlov, linked the
decision to a prohibition on foreign media. No foreign
newspapers were accredited, and "we consider you a
foreign newspaper," Pavlov said.
The Moscow Times is legally a Russian media outlet and
is registered with the authorities as such.
The Moscow Times also was barred from Polling Station
No. 2614 in western Moscow, where Medvedev cast his
ballot earlier Sunday. A spokesman for Medvedev said
the decision was due to of lack of space at the
Spokespeople for Medvedev have rejected repeated
requests over the past six months to join his media
pool for working trips to various regions.