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The 2012 Russian presidential election was held on 4 March 2012. There were five officially-registered candidates: four representatives of registered parties and one independent. The election was for a new, extended term of six years.
At the United Russia Congress in Moscow on 24 September 2011, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev proposed that his predecessor, Vladimir Putin stand for the Presidency in 2012; an offer which Putin accepted. Putin immediately offered Medvedev to stand on the United Russia ticket in the parliamentary elections in December and becoming Prime Minister of Russia at the end of his presidential term.
All independents had to register by 15 December, and candidates nominated by parties had to register by 18 January. The final list was announced on 29 January. On 2 March, outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev addressed the nation on the national television channels about the following presidential election. He invited the citizens of Russia to vote in the election to be held on 4 March 2012.
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe observers assessed the voting on the election day positively overall, but assessed the vote count negatively in almost one-third of polling stations due to procedural irregularities. The next presidential election will be in 2018.
The following are individuals who submitted documents required to be officially registered as a presidential candidate to the Central Election Commission.
The following candidates were successfully registered by the Central Election Commission:
- Sergey Mironov, nominated by A Just Russia
- Mikhail Prokhorov, independent
- Vladimir Putin, nominated by United Russia and endorsed by Patriots of Russia
- Vladimir Zhirinovsky, nominated by Liberal Democratic Party of Russia
- Gennady Zyuganov, nominated by Communist Party of the Russian Federation
The following candidates were denied registration by the Russian Central Elections Committee (CEC).
|Name||Party||Profession||Reason of rejection|
|Grigory Yavlinsky||Yabloko||Politician, Economist||Rejected due to the high quantity of invalid signatures he presented to the CEC (25.66%).|
|Eduard Limonov||Independent||Writer, leader of the unregistered party The Other Russia||Registration request from group of voters turned down on the grounds that the required initiative committee members signatures had not been certified by a notary.|
|Leonid Ivashov||Independent||Colonel General in Reserve, President of the Academy of Geopolitical Affairs||Registration request from group of voters turned down because he did not inform the CEC about holding a meeting in due time.|
|Dmitry Mezentsev||Independent||Governor of the Irkutsk Oblast||Rejected due to the high quantity of invalid signatures he presented.|
|Nicolai Levashov||Independent||Writer||Registration request turned down because at the time of registration attempt he had lived in Russia for less than 10 years.|
|Boris Mironov||Independent||Writer, former leader of the National Sovereignty Party of Russia||Registration request from group of voters turned down on the grounds that the candidate had been previously convicted of writing extremist texts.|
|Svetlana Peunova||Independent||Head of the unregistered political party Volya||Rejected due to the lack of signatures gathered to uphold her bid (243,245 signatures gathered out of the necessary 2 million).|
|Viktor Cherepkov||Independent||Leader of the of the unregistered party Freedom and Sovereignty||Did not present any signatures required for registration.|
|Rinat Khamiev||Independent||Leader of the Chairman of the People's Patriotic Union of Orenburg, CEO of Zorro LLC||Did not present any signatures required for registration.|
|Dmitry Berdnikov||Independent||Leader of the group "Against Criminality and Lawlessness"||Submitted an application on creation of an initiative committee, but later dropped out of the registration process.|
|Lidiya Bednaya||Independent||Unknown||Rejected by the CEC because she didn't provide the necessary documentation.|
Mikhail Prokhorov made a tour around the country, meeting with his supporters in various cities. He was the only candidate to do so except for Putin, who, however, visited Russia's regions as a part of his Prime Minister of Russia duties.
In the course of the 2012 presidential campaign, in order to present his manifesto, Putin published 7 articles in different Russian newspapers. In those articles, he presented his vision of the problems which Russia successfully solved in the last decade and the goals yet to be achieved. The topics of the articles were as follows: the general overview, the ethnicity issue, economic tasks, democracy and government efficiency, social policy, military, foreign policy.
During the campaign Putin made a single outdoor public speech at a 100,000-strong rally of his supporters in the Luzhniki Stadium on 23 February, Russia's Defender of the Fatherland Day. In the speech he called not to betray the Motherland, but to love her, to unite around Russia and to work together for the good, to overcome the existing problems. He said that foreign interference in Russian affairs should not be allowed, that Russia has its own free will. He compared the political situation at the moment (when fears were spread in the Russian society that 2011–2012 Russian protests could instigate a color revolution directed from abroad) with the First Fatherland War of 1812, reminding that its 200th anniversary and the anniversary of the Battle of Borodino would be celebrated in 2012. Putin cited Lermontov's poem Borodino and ended the speech with Vyacheslav Molotov's famous Great Patriotic War slogan "The Victory Shall Be Ours!" ("Победа будет за нами!").
The BBC reported that some attendees claimed they had been made to take part in the rally or paid. Some said they had been told they were attending a "folk festival". After Putin spoke, popular folk band Lubeh took to the stage.
Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky is a veteran of Russian politics who has participated in five presidential elections in Russia (every election since 1996). Zhirinovsky's campaign slogan for 2012 was "Vote Zhirinovsky, or things will get worse". Proshka, an ass owned Vladimir Zhirinovsky, became prominent during the presidential campaign, when he was filmed in an election advertisement video. On the last episode of debates with Prokhorov, just before the elections, Zhirinovsky produced a scandal, calling those Russian celebrities which supported Prokhorov, including a pop-diva and a veteran of Russian pop scene Alla Pugacheva, "prostitutes" ("I thought you are an artful person, politician, cunning man, but you are just a clown and a psycho" replied Pugacheva. "I am what I am. And such is my charm" replied Zhirinovsky).
In September 2011, Gennady Zyuganov again became the CPRF's candidate for the Russian presidential election. According to Zyuganov, "a gang of folks who cannot do anything in life apart from dollars, profits and mumbling, has humiliated the country" and called for a new international alliance to "counter the aggressive policies of imperialist circles."
|Levada||16–20 Dec 2011||63%||13%||12%||3%||6%|
|Levada||20–23 Jan 2011||63%||15%||8%||5%||5%|
|FOM||21–22 Jan 2012||52.2%||18.0%||10.8%||6.7%||6.6%|
|FOM||28–29 Jan 2012||54.6%||16.9%||11.7%||6.9%||5.9%|
|FOM||4–5 Feb 2012||58.7%||15.0%||12.2%||7.2%||5.1%|
|FOM||11–12 Feb 2012||60.0%||16.7%||9.5%||7.4%||5.0%|
|VCIOM||11–12 Feb 2012||58.6%||14.8%||9.4%||8.7%||7.7%|
|Levada||17–20 Feb 2012||66%||15%||8%||6%||5%|
|FOM||18–19 Feb 2012||58.7%||16.2%||8.8%||8.6%||6.1%|
|VCIOM||25–26 Feb 2012||59.9%||15.1%||7.7%||8.7%||7.1%|
|Candidate||24 December 2011||24–25 December 2011||7 January 2012||14 January 2012||14–15 January 2012||21 January 2012||28 January 2012||12 February 2012|
|Vladimir Putin||45 %||44 %||48 %||52 %||45 %||49 %||52 %||55 %|
|Mikhail Prokhorov||4 %||4 %||3 %||2 %||3 %||4 %||4 %||6 %|
|Gennady Zyuganov||10 %||12 %||10 %||11 %||11 %||8 %||9 %|
|Vladimir Zhirinovsky||8 %||11 %||9 %||9 %||10 %||9 %||8 %||8 %|
|Sergey Mironov||5 %||4 %||5 %||4 %||3 %||6 %||4 %||5 %|
|Grigory Yavlinsky||2 %||2 %||2 %||1 %||1 %|
|Dmitry Mezentsev||—||—||0 %||0 %||—|
|Other||—||2 %||—||0 %||1 %|
|Would not vote||10 %||9 %||9 %||10 %||10 %||9 %||11 %||9 %|
|Plan to ruin ballot||—||1 %||—||—||1 %|
|Don't know||12 %||12 %||10 %||9 %||13 %||9 %||10 %||8 %|
|Poll Source||VTSIOM||Public Opinion Fund||VTSIOM||VTSIOM||Public Opinion Fund||VTSIOM||VTSIOM||VTSIOM|
According to a "Levada Center" opinion poll from September 2011, 41% of Russian people wanted to see Putin be a candidate in the 2012 elections as opposed to 22% for Medvedev, while 10% wanted someone else and 28% were unsure.
|Vladimir Putin||United Russia||45,513,001||63.64|
|Gennady Zyuganov||Communist Party||12,288,624||17.18|
|Vladimir Zhirinovsky||Liberal Democratic Party||4,448,959||6.22|
|Sergey Mironov||A Just Russia||2,755,642||3.85|
|Source: Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation|
There were over 108,000,000 eligible voters and almost all 95,000 polling stations had webcams to observe the voting process. Following criticism of the vote in the December elections, 2 web cameras were dedicated to streaming the activities at each polling station, at an expense of a half billion dollars, i.e. about $5000 per polling station.
Claims of electoral irregularities
International observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) concluded that voting on the day of the election was assessed positively overall, but the "process deteriorated during the vote count which was assessed negatively in almost one-third of polling stations observed due to procedural irregularities." Although all competitors had access to the media, Putin was given clear prominence. Strict candidate registration requirements also limited "genuine competition". According to Tonino Picula, the Special Co-ordinator to lead the short-term OSCE observer mission,
“There were serious problems from the very start of this election. The point of elections is that the outcome should be uncertain. This was not the case in Russia. There was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt.”
The OSCE called for a thorough investigation of the electoral violations and urged citizens to actively oversee future elections in order to increase confidence.
Pravda alleged that industrial plants with a continuous-cycle production have violated the law by bussing workers to polling centres. The chairman of the Moscow Election Committee Valentin Gorbunov countered the accusation saying that this was normal practice and did not constitute a violation. According to Iosif Diskin, a member of the Public Chamber of Russia, there were special observers who controlled that workers have legal absentee certificates. Information about carousel voting was, according to him, not confirmed. Georgy Fyodorov, director of the NGO "Citizens Watch" ("Гражданский контроль"), said that statements from the monitoring group GOLOS about carousel voting in Strogino District were false, however, Citizens Watch never addressed the evidence of the electoral fraud presented by GOLOS. The level of electoral manipulation is substantial. According to GOLOS, one third of all electoral commissions had substantial irregularities at the stage of vote counting and tabulation.
Claims that Putin's share of the vote was inflated by up to 10% were dismissed by Putin in a talk with journalists: "It's possible there were irregularities, probably there were some. But they can only influence hundredths of a per cent. Well, maybe one per cent; that I can imagine. But no more." Ruža Tomašić, OSCE observer from Croatia, noted that there were no irregularities at five polling stations near Kaluga.
On 11 March 2012 approximately 15,000–20,000 protesters demonstrated in Novy Arbat street against perceived fraud and Putin's rule. MP Ilya Ponomaryov, a protest coordinator, described the protesters' plans: "We must be the government's constant nightmare and build up to a crescendo of protests at the time of Putin's inauguration in early May."
Putin was inaugurated in the Kremlin on 7 May 2012. Massive public protests had taken place in Moscow on 6 May with estimated 8,000-20,000 protesters taking part. 80 people were injured in confrontations with police (including over 30 policemen) and 450 arrests were made on 6 May and another 120 arrests the following day.
The election cost 10.375 million roubles according to a report given by the Russian Central Election Commission. According to the report, during the campaign, budget funds have been spared.
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