Media Under Fire: Covering the Russian Election
On March 4, 2012 Russian president Vladamir Putin was re-elected with a reported 63.7% of the vote, amidst accusations of fraud by his opponents. Shortly before election day Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “I think the elections will be legitimate, fair, and Putin will win in the first round.” But even before the votes were tallied the League of Voters claimed it counted 3,000 violations. Reports of “carousel voting”–busloads of voters transported to polling stations around the country–added to popular discontent, which had increased after the country’s parliamentary elections in December, also widely claimed to be fraudulent.
Discontentment with the parliamentary elections spurred protests and demonstrations leading up to the presidential election. On March 5, according to opposition leaders, 20,000 people staged a demonstration in Pushkin Square, Moscow calling for new elections. When police in riot gear broke up the demonstration hundreds of protesters and several journalists covering the event were arrested and detained.