An honest Russian politician?

Washington Post:

In a country where complaints of vote-rigging are common -- and commonly ignored -- Anton Chumachenko's stands out: The authorities say he won an election, but he insists he lost.

A first-time candidate for office and a member of Vladimir Putin's ruling United Russia party, Chumachenko won a seat on a local legislative council in St. Petersburg last month. Three weeks later, he publicly renounced his own victory, expressing disgust that votes had been falsified in his favor.

"I don't need this kind of victory!" the recent college graduate wrote in an open letter to residents. "I don't want to begin my political career with a cynical mockery of rights, laws and morality."

Chumachenko's stand took authorities by surprise and caused an uproar, challenging the nation's crooked electoral system in a way no member of the opposition could. But it also stunned the government's critics, many of whom could hardly believe that a young man who came of age in Putin's Russia might choose idealism over the cynicism that pervades politics here today.


The hotly contested race produced a high turnout, exceeding 35 percent of the voters in some areas, compared with about 10 percent in past years. Each slate of candidates sent observers to the polling stations to watch as residents cast ballots and election workers counted them.

At the end of the night, after the observers called in results, Chumachenko added the figures and realized he had lost, placing sixth in a race in which the top five vote-getters won seats. The four others on his United Russia ticket prevailed, along with one of the opposition candidates, Boris Vishnevsky, a leader of the pro-democracy Yabloko party.

But the next morning, the election commission announced different results. Chumachenko suddenly gained 80 votes, edging out Vishnevsky by two votes.


The story goes on to give the surprise of both the party and his opponents at his actions. In a post below I discuss the actions of chess master Shransky in promoting opposition candidates and I make the point that although he out maneuvers the opposition the elections can still be stolen. This young man is a very exceptional Russian politician.


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