In Plutocratic Russia, Kremlin Tweets You
December 10, 2011 12:16 AM   Subscribe

There were thousands of Russians protesting the widespread ballot stuffing discovered during the elections last sunday. Russian police arrested hundreds of protesters who had gathered in Moscow’s Triumfalnaya Square, including Alexei Navalny. Protestors raised awareness using Twitter hashtags like #триумфальная (Triumfalnaya), but pro-Kremlin spammers were prepared to drown them out using 2000 automated twitterbots they'd created earlier this year. (related, recently)
posted by jeffburdges (27 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The Economist:
Russia's elections are not intended to produce surprises, just as its streets are not meant to heave with protesters and its political leaders are not supposed to be publicly booed. The country’s “managed democracy”, with the media muzzled, only tame opposition candidates allowed and widespread vote-rigging, is designed to hand big victories to Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party. Yet the Duma election on December 4th produced an upset: United Russia’s share of the vote fell from 64% to under 50%, giving it only a slim majority. Even more remarkably, demonstrators took to the streets in the biggest protests Russia has seen in years, chanting “Russia without Putin” before troops poured in to stop them
posted by Anything at 12:46 AM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

It feels weird saying I am for the white revolution, but well... I am for the white revolution!
posted by rosswald at 12:56 AM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here's a somewhat odd detail:
The authorities agreed to allow Saturday's demonstrations to go ahead following negotiations with opposition leaders.

The two sides reached a deal in which Moscow would allow a high-turnout if the rally was relocated from downtown Revolution Square to Bolotnaya Square, a narrow island in the Moscow River.
I don't know any further specifics and maybe I'm off base here but the thought of 30000 protesters being bottled in like that sounds a bit scary.
posted by Anything at 1:14 AM on December 10, 2011

If you want to see the wonkiness of the results yourself, look at the results map and check some area where Единая Россия has high percentage (darker blue). Click and see voter turnout there. Then check some comparable sized lighter blue area and look at the voter turnout there. Areas strongly favoring Единая Россия have turnout >70%, others ~40%. Motivated voters!
posted by Free word order! at 3:00 AM on December 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

I don't know any further specifics and maybe I'm off base here but the thought of 30000 protesters being bottled in like that sounds a bit scary.

Singapore news says it was around 20,000 people and it seems The Guardian is updating live taking the number upto 25,000
posted by infini at 3:40 AM on December 10, 2011

Considering that RT has conspiracy theorist Alex Jones frequently visiting as some sort of expert I would take their stories with a grain of salt.

Don't know anything on Life News though.
posted by Anything at 5:31 AM on December 10, 2011

Russia Today is literally a state owned propaganda network. Relying on it for information on any subject, especially Russian anti-government protests, would be unwise.

Calling the protesters foreign agents is the first thing any bullshit regime does when faced with popular opposition. It happened in every Arab Spring country, and some may remember how the FBI decribed the American civil rights movement as a communist plot as well.
posted by Winnemac at 6:16 AM on December 10, 2011 [9 favorites]

Note that Golos has partnered with the National Democratic Institute, a nominally independent NGO that is funded in part by the US Endowment for Democracy. (Essentially, there are two institutes: The NDI, which is affiliated loosely with the Democratic Party and labor groups, and the International Republican Institute, affiliated loosely with the GOP.) This is probably what the RT story is sloppily referring to.

As the NDI is not an arm of the US Government, it is legally no different than contacts with, say, the Carter Center, although one would be wise to consider it an unofficial arm of US policy.
posted by dhartung at 7:23 AM on December 10, 2011

I'd favor Russia monitoring U.S. elections too. In fact, there should be a news service that covers the U.S. elections district by district while doing statistical fraud prediction openly, i.e. "Exit poles show this. Our fraud model from past years says this. Ergo, we're calling it for this guy. Expect counting 'delays' in these precincts."
posted by jeffburdges at 8:48 AM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Exit poles show this.

Yeah, like Russians would trust anything the Poles have to say.
posted by Grangousier at 9:18 AM on December 10, 2011 [8 favorites]

The article didn't mention that creating 2,000 Twitterbots required a major upgrade to the Kremvax.
posted by miyabo at 11:51 AM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'd favor Russia monitoring U.S. elections too. In fact, there should be a news service that covers the U.S. elections district by district while doing statistical fraud prediction openly…

Unnecessary: a sizable proportion of Russians already believe that the practice of electoral democracy in the US is a thin sham covering up a series of backroom deals, and that the media only perpetuate the illusion of a popular mandate for American voters (often called "hamsters") who are too soft-headed to know better.

This is why it's ridiculous to see Internet comments from US readers criticizing US coverage of Russian election fraud: "They don't criticize us, how can we criticize them?"

Russians criticize American democracy all the time, and "criticize" is too weak a word. Remember what people say about "socialism" — nice in theory, but unworkable in practice?

The truism is common in Russia, too, but it's applied to the idea of "democracy" instead — a pretty idea, but one that only children and imbeciles can believe in.
posted by Nomyte at 12:43 PM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

I suggested doing highly publicized analysis of election fraud in American elections for the benifit of Americans, not Russians, Nomyte.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:13 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Areas strongly favoring Единая Россия have turnout >70%, others ~40%. Motivated voters!

Apparently, the people in Chechnya are extremely motivated, since more than 93% of voters turned out to vote and 99,48% of them voted for the ruling party.
posted by daniel_charms at 2:32 PM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Some photos from the demonstration in Moscow: one, two. Looking at the pictures, it seems it was quite a mixed crowd, with people present from all over the political spectrum, from black flag anarchists to ultra-nationalists - truly an unholy alliance -, but there's also a number of people carrying signs invoking silly internet memes etc, which means that even those who are openly declaring that they find politics to be a bore, still turned up at an actual protest meeting, which is surely a sign.
posted by daniel_charms at 3:08 PM on December 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

Those bloggers? photographing the protests have a radio controlled camera helicopter, sweet!   Is there something about Russians and radio helicopters though?
posted by jeffburdges at 3:40 PM on December 10, 2011

I'd favor Russia monitoring U.S. elections too.

Really, the concept here is assisting people to monitor the elections of their own country.
posted by dhartung at 5:02 PM on December 10, 2011

Maybe its time that elections everywhere were monitored as closely as they are being done so in lesser developed nations
posted by infini at 8:57 PM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hah, I didn't have time to put together all of my post, but here are a few nice links.

It’s not who votes that counts...

Russians have been using YouTube and Twitter and an online map to document procedural violations during Sunday’s election.

These include the Erasable pen scam and the Carousel (wherein a young man documents himself voting several times, along with others, and the police are implicated)

Related crowdsourcing versus Putin and another government counterattack.

Also, due to Medvedev's automated system response on Twitter, he responded to a message accusing the situation of being
(shameful) and #ебаныйврот (fucked up, lit. fuckedinthemouth) with a warm "Thank you for supporting Edinaya Rossiya!"
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:14 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

jeffburdges: the guys with the quadcopter are from Ridus, a "club of citizen journalism". The site has evolved out of a campaign for a Russia "free of nonsense" started by a couple of well-known photojournalists and bloggers. What these guys represent, I think, is a new generation of Russians who are fed up with party politics, yet are also aware that the present situation is a result of political apathy, so they're trying to change things that affect them the most, starting from the small ones. What they are demanding (and increasingly actively fighting for) is , without the dull cynicism of corrupt officials who either completely ignore the existing or bend them to their will.

I think the strength of their message is demonstrated by the fact that they've got Artemy Lebedev, a well-known designer and blogger who's always been strictly apolitical, supporting their cause. But their campaign for the freedom of photography - the freedom to take pictures in places and situations where the law allows it, no matter what a policeman or a security guard might tell you - has also been endorsed by the president Dmitri Medvedev, which shows that the demand for "less stupidity" is quite big.
posted by daniel_charms at 11:47 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Another thread with coverage of the Russian election protests.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:28 AM on December 12, 2011

For those reading Russian: Here ist a purely statistical analysis of the outcome of the polls. If it is more or less correct, it shows a rough 15% plus for the governing party by manipulations. I find the analysis quite convincing, although my math skills are not up to all of its details. Anyway, plus 15% fits with the data of people directly monitoring the polls.
posted by megob at 6:33 AM on December 13, 2011

Here's an interesting post I came across that also analyzes and graphs the election data in the various regions. With this remark about the St. Petersburg counts: "It’s rather appalling in itself that they could not find someone more statistically competent to do their bidding, in a nation often top-ranked in competitive mathematics".
posted by parudox at 11:26 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I came upon the bestest quote on

Judge: Why did you not follow the police officer's orders?
Navalny: They surrounded us and then told us to disperse.
posted by daniel_charms at 9:13 AM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

(obviously just a joke but yeah)
posted by daniel_charms at 9:15 AM on December 17, 2011

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