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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Uncontested reality: how to falsify the elections in the Soviet Union

Summing up the results of the elections, the leader of United Russia Dmitry Medvedev said that the ruling party becoming a “party of new type”. However, the stunning success of United Russia, who took

76 percent of the Duma seats — 343 of 450, evokes, on the contrary, thoughts about the past: the last time the ruling party of the country achieved a comparable triumph more than a quarter century ago.

“MK” has decided to recall how was gaining its victories of the previous “leading and guiding force of our society.”

For and against

Strictly speaking, the Communist party has gone from the historical stage of the electoral undefeated. At least in most parts of the Soviet Union. For example, the results of the last parliamentary elections in Russia, elections of people’s deputies (March 1990) members and candidate members of the CPSU took 86 per cent. And the year before that, in the elections of people’s deputies of the USSR, the Communists received 87 percent of the mandates. By the way, if you don’t count the 1987 experiment conducted in several regions of the country, it was the first alternative elections in the Union.

However, by the time the party has ceased to represent a single entity. This was what is called the serpentarium friends — a tangle of locking with each other ideological opponents. So the latest Victoria, won by the Communist party, though it is fair — election in 1990 are considered by many experts unprecedented in Russia, a model of cleanliness, in General, purely nominal. They cannot be considered a victory of the authorities over the opposition, as the leaders of the “dissent” in the majority also was in the Communist party. On the other hand, in the support group of the power was quite a lot of conservative non-party.

For the Communist party as a unified political force throughout his Motherland, Soviet citizens voted for the last time in March 1984 — in the elections of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. For reference, in earlier election campaigns, the ruling party acted under the pseudonym “the bloc of Communists and non-party”. According to the Big Soviet encyclopedia this selective Association was a “political Alliance of the Communist party from non-party workers” in the expression “the inviolability of the moral-political unity of Soviet society”.

According to the compilers of this fount of wisdom, “their unanimity and activity in the elections, the Soviet people expressed full confidence in the Communist party and the Soviet government.” And the results of the elections confirm this enthusiasm. Specify: the Parliament then consisted of two equal and equal chambers — the Soviet of the Union and the Soviet of Nationalities. So, for the candidates nominated by the “bloc of Communists and non-party” in the Union Council, in March 1984 voted, according to official figures, of 99.94 percent of the vote in the Council of Nationalities and 99.95. To match these records and voter turnout: the turnout was 99.99 per cent of voters included in the lists.

“Nothing like this knows not a single capitalist country, where the mass evasion from participation in the vote has become a typical phenomenon, exulted in those days the Soviet press. – Voting results refute the false fictions of the bourgeois propagandists of our political system, bodies of state power in the USSR, socialist democracy.”

In fairness it should be noted that “bourgeois propagandists”, the emphasis was on the inevitability of the election and the “false fiction” to deny it was extremely difficult. Pre-perestroika ballot contained one name of a candidate of the “block of Communists and non-party”. Theoretically nominate alternative candidates were not forbidden. The right to nomination according to the then legislation had not only the Communist party, Komsomol and trade unions, but also “other public organizations”, as well as labor and military collectives. But in practice, in the meetings of organizations and groups endorse candidates top-down.

Attempt to break this practice – of course, unsuccessful – was undertaken by a group “Elections-79”, established in February 1979, and consisted of about 40 dissidents. The panel made a Declaration of intention to nominate their own candidates for deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR (elections were to be held on March 4, 1979). Candidates were two: historian Roy Medvedev and engineer Lyudmila Agapova. But the group was denied registration as a public organization and, therefore, the election Commission refused to register its candidates.

Absolutely no alternative however to call them all it is impossible. There are at least two possibilities to Express their disagreement: 1) do not go to the polls; 2) strike out “candidate of the people.” And a certain number of Soviet citizens the opportunity use. Though very small. According to the official results of the all-Union elections of 1984, they were ignored 23 thousand 39 people — 29 of 184 million 41 thousand, included in the electoral lists. A larger number of “turncoats” chose a protest vote against the candidates of the “bloc of Communists and non-party” voted 72 109 thousand voters. However, there are doubts that these figures are accurate.

Operation “Falsification”

The question of how honest that time was counting, is still waiting for his painstaking researcher. “It is difficult to assess whether these data (official results of elections held in the USSR. — “MK”) with the reality — recognize in his work on election fraud, experts in the field of the electoral process Arkady lyubarev, Andrei Buzin and Alexander Kanev. Most citizens went to the polls and voted for the proposed candidates (that is dropped into the ballot box clean newsletter), considering this action as ritual expressions of loyalty to the current government. At the same time, the number of people who behaved differently, there was probably more than 0.1 percent. For citizens who, despite all the blandishments of agitators, did not come to vote, usually dropped blank ballots by the election Commission. Perhaps when transferring data up distorted and the number of voters who voted against”.

The documentary evidence for this assumption, of course, not. And official statistics are, to put it mildly, incomplete: only published the overall results in the country, Republic or region. The results of voting at individual polling stations and even in individual constituencies remained unknown. That, however, is another argument in favor of the fact that the case was not quite pure. Why else to hide the ends in water?

However, hiding has begun not at once. In the first 20 years of Soviet power, the manipulation was conducted openly and quite legally: according to the then law, the right to elect and to be elected were deprived of a great part of the population. Including private traders, persons using hired labour, persons living on “unearned income”, the Ministers of religious cults, employees and agents of the tsarist police…

Field class approach was interpreted, as a rule, more widely. Zeal of other regional electoral commissions was exciting even then experts in the fight against sedition. “Sometimes the increase in the number of the “disenfranchised” were too high”, — stated in the “Overview of the political condition of the Soviet Union in January 1927,” compiled of the OGPU. In some regions of the country — for example, in some municipalities of the Arkhangelsk province — the share of citizens deprived of the voting rights reached 50%. The report describes a rather anecdotal cases. For example, in Komi Zyryan region the local electoral Committee has deprived of electoral rights by two high-ranking regional officials, members of the party, “as former acolytes”. In Tambov province a teacher was recognized as “Lisenko” on the grounds that “lives in the house of the priest”.

Under such game rules at the foci of ballots and protocols was no great need: potential “Protestants” in General not allowed to polling stations. However, the adoption of the Stalin Constitution of 1936 seriously changed the electoral landscape. The new fundamental law proclaimed the “universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot”. By the way, the Soviet intelligence agencies carefully track the public mood, has recorded, among other things, the frustration of many Orthodox Bolsheviks, saying that the revolution is in danger — established “bourgeois order”. Say, taking advantage of the kindness and carelessness of the state, “former” will make their way into the Soviets and regain the lost positions.

Fears of vigilant companions were not quite so unfounded. The reports of the people’s Commissariat of internal Affairs relating to this period, is overwhelmed with disturbing information about the revival of “counterrevolutionary elements.” But not asleep and the competent authorities. “In D. Petrovinka a group of clergy in 4 people, being present at the election meeting, refused to vote for the candidature of comrade Stalin, — said, for example, in “special report of the NKVD of the Byelorussian SSR of anti-Soviet manifestations in connection with the elections to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR according to 13 November 1937″. Group arrested”. Another information from that source: “Pop-Sachuk and 4 sectarian walked through the villages and openly campaigning against participation in the elections to the Supreme Council. The perpetrators arrested.”

But such preventive measures did not give firm guarantees that all voters will go to the polls and to vote as necessary. It was especially difficult to provide the right number in the regions annexed by the USSR in 1939-1940, where the population, spoiled bourgeois liberties, have not had time to get used to a strict Soviet order. In fact, it was then made the first accusation of the Soviet authorities that they recklessly falsifiziert the results of the vote.

For example, in the message of Reuters from November 7, 1939, with the Polish-Romanian border, which at that time was already Soviet-Romanian, it was argued that in the elections to the people’s Assembly of Western Ukraine, held on October 22, 1939, in the cities involved no more than 50, and villages — not more than 25 percent of the total electorate. According to the official Soviet data, the turnout was 92,83%, and “candidates of the people” supported 90,93% of voters.

The newly elected MPs is not reached then his words and vehemently denied in his statement, “the shameless lies of Reuters,”: “mind you, gentlemen, figure 92,83%… the working people of Western Ukraine, dismissing any and all provocations will be under the leadership of the Bolshevik party to build and will build a new, free and bright life.”

In the whole country, the official figures were even higher. So in the elections of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, held in December 1937, the first in the Union of universal and equal suffrage, as reported, took part of 96.8 percent of voters, 98.6 percent supported the candidates of the “bloc of Communists and non-party”. It is noteworthy, however, that on the eve of the voting day the Central election Commission sent out by regions of the secret Directive, signed by the CEC Secretary Georgi Malenkov, in which the district election commissions strictly forbidden to publish in print any quantitative results of the vote- only the name of the elected Deputy.

Dirty linen in public

Line protection from attacks “to the slanderers of Russia” was about the same as now. Unproven, they say, charges. And something to counter this argument was difficult: not caught — not a thief. However, we cannot say that the fraud took place quite so completely. Those cases where local authorities have gone too far and/or acted on his own initiative, left some archival evidence. One of these swept-house of dirt — the special report of the Minister of state security of the USSR Viktor Abakumov Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Joseph Stalin, dated February 14, 1947. The head of the MGB informs him about “the perversions of the Stalin Constitution” made in preparation for elections to the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR, which took place from the Secretary of the Stalin district Committee of CP(b)of the city of Zaporozhye Mikhailenko.

“Mikhailenko appointed in each election Commission of the Stalin electoral district commissioners district Committee of CP(b)U, which suggested to the Chairman of District election Commission ballot papers in the amount of 10 percent of the total number of voters and the counting of results of voting to replace the ballot papers of voters who voted against, — tells Abakumov. — The chairmen of the precinct election commissions of the Stalin electoral district was instructed not to put in the cockpit pencils or leave them neozhidannymi, to create an environment in which voters after receiving the ballots would be deprived of the opportunity to go into the cabin and directly went to the polls”.

Called and the customer: the question is, from whom comes this setup, an employee of the district “referred to the instructions of the Secretary of Zaporizhia regional Committee of the CP(b)U tov. Brezhnev”. Yes, we are talking about the future General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee. Another spicy detail: although Abakumov calls, because who, exactly, broke the spear, it is easy to guess that the candidate of the “block of Communists and non-party” in the Stalin electoral district was none other than himself “dear Leonid Ilyich”.

However, the special report of Abakumov did not halt Brezhnev’s career. I have the feeling that even, on the contrary, accelerated. At the end of 1947, Leonid Ilyich received the order of Lenin and placed to lead the much larger, economically developed and politically significant region — Dnipropetrovsk oblast. Two years later he was promoted to the post of first Secretary of the Communist party of Moldova, and in 1952, shortly before Stalin’s death, included in the power elite — became Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU and a candidate member of the Presidium of the Central Committee.

This suggests that in the eyes of the Owner the tricks of Leonid Brezhnev and his subordinates was not a sin that they have taken trying to fix the outcome of the vote is quite consistent with the practice prevailing in those years. Abakumovskaya same signal depicting the practice of history, was probably caused by vnutripolostnoe struggle: the enemies-competitors decided to clip the wings of young (40 years) and the prospective head region. But did not realize that Stalin, apparently, has already put an eye on Brezhnev and to include their Pets — those who have decided to bet in a new series of “big cleaning”.

Fortunately for the old Stalinist guard, the event on the “renewal of blood” fell through due to the untimely death of the leader, abruptly changed, as you know, the political atmosphere in the country. But here’s the paradox: despite the humanization of the Soviet system and the attendant growth of dissent and sloppiness, the electoral results of the “bloc of Communists and non-party” is not only not declined, but continued to creep up, came close at the end of the era of stagnation to 100 percent.

This can be partly explained by the fact that voting is no longer perceived as an element of political struggle, becoming nothing more than a ritual. To do not consider it shameful even a critical to the power of the citizens. In principle, it was possible not to execute: no liability for failing to report the election legislation did not provide. However, luxury with impunity, to send to hell the annoying agitators that caused citizens to quickly give your civic duty, could afford only those who were on the lower floors of the social pyramid and did not think to get higher. For other people who had something to lose — the Soviet authorities had a vast Arsenal of measures.

But, anyway, in comparison with the Stalinist era of the reins considerably weakened: for ignoring the holiday of Soviet democracy or voting against the chiefs not only were shot, but not even planted. Well, if it’s not accompanied by some other, more serious anti-Soviet. What offset is this liberalism? The obvious and indeed the only possible answer — fraud. Many researchers dealing with the topic of Soviet elections, noted that in the post-Stalin era, the scale of electoral fraud have increased significantly.

Vote do not vote…

To the greatest extent adjustments included data on attendance, says a leading researcher of the Institute of sociology Leonti Byzov. “Turnout in excess of 70 percent, any normal observer raises more questions, says the scientist. — In life it does not happen, such activity of voters to provide almost impossible. People get sick, go to visit, they have a lot of things that distract them from the election. That is, anything above 70 percent, of course, rigged. On the control figures out vbrasyvaya ballots. But since the election was uncontested, the results of no negative impact”.

Falsified, of course, and the figures reflect a protest vote. Although to a much lesser extent. “The voting results are in principle consistent with the sentiment in the country — recognizes Byzov. — People have seen there are a lot of individual shortcomings, but in General belonged to the government well. The exception was very narrow circle of dissidents, no statistics, not made”.

As for the electoral behavior of open opponents of the authorities, it was twofold. Part of the dissidents refused to participate in elections, part voted against. Many dissidents, says the sociologist, took the absentee ballots and went to vote in areas where he ran a landmark candidates representing the authorities. For example, Brezhnev and other Politburo members. And delete them. Thus, in particular, according to Byzova, did some of his relatives. “But no matter how many people or ran to vote against Brezhnev, he always was 98.9 percent — said Byzov. — I don’t know, do these ballots at all… Probably still believed. Not considered — uncomfortable: people will talk. But in any case upstairs these calculations neglected, has issued a pre-agreed numbers.”

Among the dissidents, chose the path of protest vote, was one of the founders and the current Chairman (since 1996) of the Moscow Helsinki group Lyudmila Alekseeva. “Most of my supporters not go to the polls fundamentally — shared their memories of Lyudmila Mikhailovna. — Left the city or went out of the house for the whole day. Not to pester, because without end at the door knocked, “Come to vote!” I was in this sense a trespasser. Because was convinced: if this procedure is called an election, I as a citizen have this procedure to follow. And I went to the polls and edged out the only candidate. On my site, may have been the only one. People are so indifferent to these elections, even in the cab did not come: just take the ballot and carried the ballot box”.

According to Alekseeva, an extraordinary behavior was not for her absolutely no negative effects: “on the Contrary, I was encouraging because I’m a good agitator.” This social burden Lyudmila Mikhailovna imposed as a teacher of history and member of the party (the Communist party ruled it out not immediately after the start of the human rights activities). As a propagandist, she participated in many election campaigns. However, the agitator was peculiar: “I came in and immediately said, “why should I agitate you? You are literate, have read the biography of the candidate. And as you want, and do want, vote for us, want — out. And we with you let’s talk about what you interesting.” And I started to enjoy the topics of conversation. There was the different: about the war in Korea, and about neo-realism in film. I, along with my campaigning went to the movies, explaining what is wonderful…”

The law of nature

There was also another form of unconventional behavior in the election. And is very common. According to a Memorandum directed to the first Secretary of the Lenin district Committee of the CPSU of the city of Kirov in the Kirov regional Committee, during elections to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, held June 16, 1974, at the polling stations of the district was discovered in urns 470 ballots with the words and individual notes. Some of them were Patriotic: “I Wish good health to Brezhnev”, “Vote for people’s happiness” and the like. Part — in the form of orders, requests and suggestions. A typical example: “we Ask our members to building a Socialist had running water, and approach to street, and then we go to the wading boots”.

But many inscriptions, recognizes party official, was a criticism of the defects. A significant proportion expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of life: “Why no meat?”, “Why add to the price of food, and the salary is low?”, “We are all elected, and nothing in the shops”. However, he was among the knockers and those who came out to the wider political generalization: “When the end game elections?”, “You can only vote for Leonid Brezhnev and Kosygin, A. N., but it’s a formality”, “Protest against the idiotic electoral system”…

According to sociologist Leonty Byzova, the mass consciousness of the era was even more relaxed than now: “Today, society is more brainwashed than in the late Soviet times. Then people did everything that relies on ritual: went to party meetings, to the polls. But inside was more free, more open to new ideas and new opinions, than our present conservative majority that blindly listening to the propagandists of the state TV channels and repeats everything you say nightingales and Kiselyov. Then it was much more sober and calm attitude to life.”

Today’s society is overcome with fear of change, says Byzov: “People are very afraid for their life when retired, albeit small, put on time, when somehow work in the public service. All this is better than a failed state. Those who survived the 1990-ies, appreciate modest, but calm well-being, fearing some shocks”. However, the shock of the 1990s begins to quietly disappear, said Byzov. This means that sooner or later the hearts and the eyes will again require a change. These are the laws of psychology, politics and nature.

“Millions of good people involved in the Communist performance, but do not decide — prophetically wrote of the voters-the philosopher on the ballot, discovered in 1969 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. — Eternal short-lived weakness and the strength of the Soviet system.” Is not eternal will and strength of any given political regime, which dare to repeat the Soviet experiment and plunge the country into an uncontested reality.

photo: Gennady Cherkasov

Well-known Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva always in the Soviet elections were contested. “Because I was convinced that once this procedure is called an election, I as a citizen have this procedure to follow. And I went to the polls and edged out the only candidate. On my site, may have been the only one”.


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