'This is no longer election, this is a solemn project for everyone'
What foreign experts think about the organisation of elections in Tatarstan
Foreign experts who have come to Tatarstan to familiarise themselves with the Russian electoral system noted a high turnout at the elections, the good organisation of the process in terms of anti-covid measures, the creation of conditions for the expression of the will of people with disabilities, the presence of video cameras recording the process. They shared their opinion at a meeting in the Central Election Commission of Tatarstan with the head of the republican election commission, Andrey Kondratyev. He, in his turn, told the experts that in Tatarstan the elections are a holiday, and his entire family go to them.
All members of election commissions ensured
The voting process in the elections in Tatarstan is monitored by foreign experts who visit polling stations not only in Kazan, but also in its suburbs and in nearby areas. The delegation includes representatives of Germany, Syria and Mauritania. On Saturday, they met with the chairman of the CEC, Andrey Kondratyev. He noted that the presence of such experts during the election campaign is a significant event from the point of view of the openness of the process itself, it is important for those who organise it.
“The opportunity to exchange experience and study the aspects of organising elections in other countries contributes to the development of the electoral process," Kondratyev stated.
He told the guests about the voting procedure and the number of candidates and parties. The head of the CEC explained that the coronavirus pandemic had made its own adjustments to the electoral process, which is why a three-day vote has been organised. This made it possible to ensure epidemiological safety. All polling stations were provided with protective equipment in advance. Besides, Tatarstan has become the only region in Russia in which all 2,2 thousand members of precinct commissions have been insured against coronavirus infection during the elections and after them.
“We understand that by creating safe conditions at polling stations, we will thereby strengthen confidence in the system, that we are making the voting place itself safe, providing all the necessary preventive measures," Kondratyev explained.
Most active are Communist Party and Yabloko
According to the head of the CEC of the Republic of Tatarstan, another difference of the current plebiscite is its maximum transparency. If at the last State Duma elections, 20,000 cameras were installed throughout Russia, then at the current ones — already 100,000, which will work around the clock. The scheme of their placement has been agreed in advance, and they are able to record even in complete darkness. Such cameras are installed in those polling stations where 80% of voters vote, the rest are equipped with video recording cameras.
Kondratyev stressed that this year special attention has been paid to the media in the work of the Tatarstan CEC, new formats have been launched — a forum of voters and specialised platforms that allow meeting with all parties that participate in the elections.
Roman Belyakov, a member of the expert council, adviser to the Chairman of the CEC of the Republic of Tatarstan, told the experts about the Russian party system. Candidates from 14 parties are participating in the current elections — four parliamentary parties and 10 parties with their representatives in regional parliaments. Thus, there are representatives of the left, right, and centrist forces in the election race. According to Belyakov, members of the Communist Party and Yabloko are most active in the current campaign.
“These are the antipode parties. One criticises the United Russia on the right, and the other — on the left. But this is normal, we believe that this is for the benefit of our country and our citizens," the political scientist noted.
“These elections are not only political, but also humanitarian”
The deputy of the Landtag of Bavaria, Christian Frank Ulrich Henkel, asked how many people would vote in the plebiscite. To which the head of the CEC replied that Tatarstan always “votes actively”: for example, during the May experiment on remote electronic voting, 61,3% of voters participated in the republic (only 52% across Russia). According to him, elections, especially in rural areas, are a holiday in which families participate. He even gave an example of his family, in which everyone goes to the polling station together, including his grandparents. “It is considered poor etiquette if someone from the family does not vote," Kondratyev admitted.
“Your turnout in the elections is much higher than ours, in Germany," envied another deputy of the Landtag of Bavaria, Ulrich Singer, who, by the way, speaks Russian perfectly.
And the current deputy of the People's Council of the Syrian Arab Republic, Samir Hajar, was particularly impressed not so much by the turnout, but by the way voting was organised at polling stations.
“During my stay here, I noted that everything that is happening is a great achievement for democracy. I would like to say that the elections are carried out with great accuracy thanks to the order that exists at the polling stations, video cameras and observers. I would also like to note the epidemiological measures that are being taken: the way masks are monitored, hands are constantly disinfected, and people are very strictly monitored where people go in and out. What we can observe is one of the success factors," the guest admired.
Christian Frank Ulrich Henkel said that he was glad to see the electoral process in Russia with his own eyes, and not as it is presented by the Western media.
“My colleague and I in the parliament always fight for Russia to be spoken about honestly. We are against Germany telling Russia what to do. The country that tells others what to do, first of all, should sort out its own problems. Our country stands for Nord Stream 2 and for honest relations between our countries, because we have a lot in common.
Former deputy of the People's Council of the Syrian Arab Republic Mahmoud Al-Hasan, who is coming to Russia for the second time, is confident that these elections will be transparent. He was particularly impressed by the attitude towards low-mobility groups of the population.
“We liked the way they are taking care of people with disabilities. Thus, we can say that these elections are not only political, but also humanitarian. Compliance with all anti-aids measures shows what care is taken about the health of citizens. But despite these measures, we hear some negative reviews. In fact, the elections that are held in Western countries are elections that are not controlled by the people, but by those who own capital," he noted.
Ulrich Singer added that no matter how the elections are held in Russia, the West will try to find “some little things, shortcomings” and said that he hopes that, despite the propaganda, their voice will be heard.
The German parliamentarian shared what he saw with the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya:
“This is no longer election, this is a solemn project for everyone. Everyone who participates in this is proud that there is an opportunity to choose," he said.