Public scoff’s over president’s online bid to probe vote fraud

Washington Post

President Dmitry Medvedev used his Facebook page Sunday to disclose that he had ordered an investigation into reports of election fraud, a statement his audience greeted with derision.

The posting quickly went viral, and drew more than 8,000 mostly offended and even offensive comments in a little over six hours, revealing the depth of the disillusionment with Mr. Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and their government. Tens of thousands of Russians spoke up in demonstrations across the country Saturday, protesting the Dec. 4 parliamentary elections, and they apparently had no intention of returning to their former silence.

“Shame!” was a frequent comment, along with “You’re pathetic.”

The public’s posts Sunday revealed astonishing candor and courage. It’s one thing to stand in a Moscow crowd of up to 40,000, according to estimates, and call for new elections. It’s another matter to advertise your anger and disgust on the president’s Facebook page, where it doesn’t take a federal agent long to make a quick identification.

In posting on Facebook, Mr. Medvedev was attempting to respond to Russians who organized Saturday’s protest online, who are angry because they suspect the election was rigged in favor of the United Russia party.

“I agree neither with the slogans, nor the statements voiced at the protests,” Mr. Medvedev wrote. “Nevertheless, I have ordered checks into all the reports from polling stations, regarding the compliance with the election laws.”

One reason for the skepticism that greeted his remarks: Mr. Medvedev is the head of United Russia and was the top candidate on its party list in the election. He nominates the chief prosecutor and judges, who might not be eager to pursue those working on behalf of the ruling party.

Mr. Medvedev, famous for tweeting and carrying an iPad, routinely orders investigations into all sorts of matters: the beating a year ago of the journalist Oleg Kashin, the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, the forest fires that burned out of control in 2010, a blaze at a retirement home in 2009. Nothing has come of those.

When Mr. Medvedev blandly announced Sept. 24 that he would relinquish the presidency after one term so that Mr. Putin could run in March and take it back, he finally lost his credibility among Russians who had been counting on him as a progressive counterpoint to Mr. Putin.

“I haven’t noticed anything good coming from your presidency,” one person wrote in a post Sunday. “And on my meager doctor’s salary, it has become even worse. Leave now, and don’t wait for the Tahrir Spring. It is going to happen, I promise you.”

Frustration was also evident at Mr. Medvedev’s talk of an investigation, when protesters were demanding new elections. “Have you lost your mind? How many do you need? 100,000 at the Kremlin?”

On Thursday, Vladimir Churov, head of the Central Election Commission and a longtime Putin ally, said he asked prosecutors to look into the videos posted on the Internet that showed purported violations. He promised that infractions would be pursued but suggested that many may have been faked, recorded in someone’s apartment. “Those who created, commissioned or sponsored them will be held to account,” he said. займ срочно без отказов и проверок hairy woman https://zp-pdl.com https://zp-pdl.com/how-to-get-fast-payday-loan-online.php займы без отказа

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