By Mark Whitehouse
Official results from Sunday's parliamentary elections suggest that United Russia, the party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitri Medvedev, was extremely popular among at least one group of voters in Moscow: inhabitants of mental hospitals.
The psychiatric establishments figured prominently in a list of polling stations with particularly anomalous results, according to an analysis by the newspaper Vedomosti. United Russia won 93.14 percent of the vote at the Preobrazhensky Psychiatric Hospital, and 93.06 percent at the Moscow Region Clinical Psychiatric Hospital. Pre-trial detention centers, regular hospitals and schools were also well represented in the list.
Such polling stations accounted for only a small percentage of the total vote in Moscow, but illustrate how election officials managed to achieve a result of more than 46 percent for United Russia. Independent monitors and exit polls suggest the ruling party actually garnered less than 30 percent of the Moscow vote.
The sheer brazenness of the election-day violations -- reports include incidents of ballot-box stuffing and "carousels," in which a single group of people votes mutliple times at different polling stations -- help explain why thousands of Muscovites, including many who hadn't previously been politically active, took to the streets in the largest protests the capital city has seen in years. As one friend in Moscow put it, journalists are no longer the only people interested in the results of Russian elections.
(Mark Whitehouse is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board.)
-0- Dec/06/2011 09:25 GMT