Chechnya has now had four events described as “elections” since March of 2003, and each one has been more brazenly fraudulent than the one before it. In the March 14 election for the presidency of the Russian Federation, the authorities barely tried to provide any credible evidence of the massive turnout reported in their own figures. Agence France-Presse reported on that day that even western journalists who took part in a trip to various polling stations organized by the Kremlin for them found that most of those polling stations were “empty.” Apparently with pride rather than shame, military spokesman Ilya Shabalkin told reporters on election day that “it’s like Soviet times, they are all going to vote.”
The Russian news agency Novosti reported on the day after the election that, according to preliminary data from election officials, 90 percent of Chechnya’s eligible voters had cast ballots, and that Putin had won 92 percent of their votes. That is significantly higher than the Putin vote reported for the Russia Federation as a whole–“only” 71 percent.
In a March 15 article for the Moscow Times, Timur Aliev reported that “some lower ranking officials openly admitted stuffing ballot boxes.” Ziyavdi Chagaev, deputy head of a polling station in Grozny, said that he and his colleagues had received orders from higher officials specifying the proportion of phony votes to be allocated to each of the candidates.
Chagaev told the journalist that “as early as Saturday, members of our commission filled out the ballots in accordance with the instructions. On Sunday we only had to stuff them into the boxes.” He said that they filled out nearly 2,000 ballots in this fashion, knowing from their experience of past elections that not more than 200 flesh-and-blood citizens would actually show up to vote.