Russia's election Magician pans "undemocratic" U.S. vote

MOSCOW Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:14pm IST

Vladimir Churov, head of Russia's Central Election Commission, holds a news conference at the Central Election Commission headquarters in Moscow, April 20, 2012. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/Files

Vladimir Churov, head of Russia's Central Election Commission, holds a news conference at the Central Election Commission headquarters in Moscow, April 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin/Files

Related Topics

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Tired of being lectured on democracy, the man known in Russia as "The Magician" for overseeing fraud-marred elections won by Vladimir Putin turned the tables on Wednesday by lambasting the U.S. electoral system.

Using language usually reserved for U.S. and European criticism of Russia, Vladimir Churov said American voters will choose a president on Tuesday under an electoral system that is flawed and undemocratic.

Churov, a Putin ally, may still have been smarting over U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's suggestion that Russia's parliamentary election last December was "neither free nor fair."

"The U.S. presidential election is not direct, not universal and not equal, and it does not safeguard the secrecy of voting,"

Churov, who heads Russia's Central Election Commission, wrote in the government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta's online edition.

"The electoral system and electoral laws in the United States are far from perfect. They are contradictory, archaic and do not correspond to the democratic principles the United States has declared as the basis of its foreign and domestic politics."

He cited a long list of shortcomings such as U.S. methods for registering and identifying voters, vote monitoring which he said was inefficient and mechanisms for casting ballots which he described as questionable.

Washington is unlikely to enjoy being taken to task on democracy by an official from its former Cold War enemy, which also condemned its human rights track-record earlier in October.

The conduct of elections in Russia, which emerged from decades of communist rule in 1991, has regularly been criticised by foreign observers, including the United States.

The irony was also not lost on some Russians. A message sent on a Twitter account pretending to be an official comment by the Russian Foreign Ministry likened Churov's comments to the head of a Russian car company criticising U.S. automobiles.


A leading human rights activist described Churov's five-page article as "state propaganda" intended to deflect attention from Russia's own democratic failings.

"What is really important is the spirit of the law and of democracy and of elections," said Grigory Melkonyants, deputy head of Western-funded election monitoring group Golos. "Nobody can question that in regard to the United States. Elections there produce totally legitimate authorities, unlike here."

Churov, 59, dismissed opposition allegations of widespread fraud in the parliamentary election won by Putin's United Russia party last December and the presidential election in March.

Opposition leaders started referring to him as "The Magician" when United Russia held on to its parliamentary majority. Churov dismissed the allegations and said Putin's victory reflected the popular will.

At least some of his views on the U.S. electoral system are shared by others in the political establishment in Russia.

The Foreign Ministry last week said the U.S. State department liked to preach to the rest of the world on democracy and human rights but hinted that it was not always quick to apply these principles on its own soil.

This was a reference to efforts in Texas to ensure international election monitors do not violate a law that bars unauthorised people from entering polling stations.

Russian officials remain sensitive to U.S. criticism and are quick to respond in kind when the opportunity arises, despite attempts by U.S. President Barack Obama - who is in a tight election race against Republican Mitt Romney - to "reset" ties four years ago.

The two veto-wielding U.N. Security Council members still disagree on a number of issues ranging from the conflict in Syria to missile defence.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared



Stake Sale Strike

Stake Sale Strike

Coal India trade unions call off strike in victory for Modi.  Full Article 

Markets Weekahead

Markets Weekahead

Ride the bull with a finger on the ejector button.  Full Article 

Indian Captain

Indian Captain

Team mates will determine success of my captaincy - Kohli.  Full Article 

Interview with Bulgari CEO

Interview: Bulgari CEO

Bulgari CEO: we shouldn’t have left India so we’re back  Full Article 

U.S. Forces in Afghanistan

Obama widens post-2014 combat role for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.  Full Article 

Economic Reforms

Economic Reforms

Long "to do" list for Modi as clock ticks on reform.  Full Article 

Available For Remake

Available For Remake

Bollywood finally wants to pay the price for remakes  Full Article 

Messi Magic

Messi Magic

Messi sets La Liga record of 253 goals.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Happy Ending" is old wine in an older bottle  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage