Not a long ago, the 7х7 publication brought a reminder of the unprecedented case of Elena Shebarshina, the former chairwoman of the Komi Republic’s election commission. Unlike the criminal cases for vote rigging, which led to suspended sentences for several scapegoats, Shebarshina’s case shines light on the principal deficiency of Russian elections, the fact that they are governed by the incumbent authorities. The former chairwoman of the regional election comission is accused of unlawfully receiving recompense (60,000-100,000 rubles a month for 8 years) for handing over “information about candidates’ nomination” and “protocols of district election commissions prior to the input of their results into the Vybory state automated system” (this is a quote from the media, which in turn cites the prosecution). The information was naturally handed over to the government of Komi Republic, to the first deputy of the Republic’s head, who oversaw regional politics. The recompense is qualified as bribes, and the charges were brought under article “Bribetaking by a public official on a specially grand scale,” and not under articles associated with the violations of citizens’ constitutional rights.
The charge is fantastic. I don’t think that the prosecution realizes what sort of Pandora’s box has been opened, because they do not comprehend the importance of official recognition of the regional election commission’s governance by the executive branch. It’s possible that once they do comprehend this, the case will be safely sabotaged. Shebarshina was just unlucky to be drawn into the showpiece anticorruption case of the former Komi Republic head Geyzer.
The indictment is especially grotesque because it contains no components of crime. Information about the candidates has to be open, and the protocols most certainly werent’ handed over. It’s possible that information about preliminary voting results was handed over, but if it was, it was done in broadest terms possible, because it’s no business for the first deputy head of the Republic to correct voting results at polling stations. That’s the business of district heads and the chairmen of territorial election commissions who are governed by them. But the regional administration does inform the regional election commission of the corridor for election results, and achievement of those figures can be a cause for a bonus.
But, if I understand correctly, the bill of indictment speaks neither of the mass fraud that happened in Syktyvkar in 2011, when United Russia party received more than 30,000 extra votes, nor of the chairman of territorial election commission caught committing fraud in Inta. The bill of indictment says that the chairwoman of the regional election commission received bribes from the republican administration for passing open information.
That’s not bribes! That’s the gratitude that is passed in billions of rubles in the form of bonuses and gifts from the regional administrations to the organizers of elections. It’s their appreciation for the great performance.