Kasparov: Official March 4 Outcome Doesn’t Matter

Garry Kasparov Source: AP/Ivan SekretarevEveryone to the referendum!
By Garry Kasparov
February 29, 2012

The inevitability of Putin’s victory during the first round of voting has become the main ammunition for the Kremlin’s propagandists, busily going about brainwashing voters. Russia’s main polling organizations – the Public Opinion Foundation, the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, and the Levada Center – are literally chomping at the bit to please the Kremlin with bigger and better numbers. A carefully selected list of sparring partners gives the painfully tired argument “and who, if not Him” more weight.

The opponents of Putin who are making a formal bid for the presidency of this great country actually look a lot like comic personalities from Soviet cinema. The troika of Sergei Mironov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and Gennady Zyuganov bears a close resemblance to Leonid Gaidai’s Three Soviet Stooges, and in some cases bear physical similarities as well. Meanwhile, the lone figure of Mikhail Prokhorov smacks of the lanky provincial nobility. In fact, Putin’s hysterical electoral campaign seems to imply that Putin sees his relationship with Russia as a dilemma reminiscent of Gaidai’s classic comedy about kidnapping a woman in hopes of marrying her: “Either I bring her to get the marriage certificate signed, or she brings me to the prosecutor.”

Of course, it’s hard to argue with the logic of those who, for aesthetic reasons, say we should “cross out” all the names on our ballots. But here we need to consider that the Central Electoral Commission might count any ballots marked like this – “against all” – as spoiled, and not count them as part of the overall number of votes cast.

Therefore, before we attempt to solve the Kremlin’s puzzle, let’s review the raw data:

1. The March 4 election will not be legitimate, since each stage of this most important political process, from the passing of electoral legislation to the opportunities for registered candidates to carry out full-fledged campaigns, involved rude violations that infringed upon the constitutional rights of Russian citizens.

2. The ideological basis of the protest movement consists of the demands set forth in the resolutions taken on Bolotnaya Square and on Sakharov Prospect. Among those, one of the conditions for normalizing political life in the country is listed as an early presidential election, carried out according to new regulations that actually correspond to the Russian constitution.

3. Regardless of what results Churov’s electoral commission announces on the night of March 4, we need to continue the fight to hold early presidential and parliamentary elections. Even if we imagine for a second that the winner’s last name is more than five letters long, this does not in principle change anything in regards to our demands to provide Russian citizens with the right to choose a legitimate government through free and fair elections.

Following this logic, we’d ought to look at the March 4 election as an opportunity for us once and for all to delegitimize the Putin regime – and, correspondingly, as an opportunity to mobilize a significant number of non-apathetic Russian citizens to come out to mass protests. Therefore, it doesn’t make any difference who we vote for, as long as we vote against Putin.

There’s no need to torment yourself with redundant doubts – we will not be participating in a real presidential election on March 4. On this day we will be holding a de-facto referendum in expressing our distrust of Vladimir Putin, and a high voter turnout could quite possibly upset all the calculations by the Kremlin’s political spin doctors. And the four boxes across from the names that the Kremlin’s will has allowed to be on that list – these are just four ways that you can say no to the swindlers and thieves who have usurped power in Russia.