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2 of the 3 Losers Criticize Russian Election

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2008/03/03/014.html Monday, March 3, 2008. Issue 3853. Page 4. 2 of the 3 Losers Criticize Election By Anatoly Medetsky,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 2, 2008
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      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
      Staff Writers

      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,
      an independent.

      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
      "unfair campaign."

      During his 15-minute speech, Zyuganov also called for
      reforms to make the Kremlin more accountable to the
      State Duma.

      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,"
      he said.

      "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
      polling station.

      Spokespeople for Medvedev have rejected repeated
      requests over the past six months to join his media
      pool for working trips to various regions.
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