President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Just recently elections were held in Russia. As head of our Central Election Commission, you were actively engaged in the entire election process and responsible for reporting on it.
I can say that as I see it the interest in the regional legislative elections and to local self-government bodies increased significantly. I remember the 90s: people simply did not go to such elections. Interest in them is increasing. I believe this reflects the real situation in our country.
My second conclusion is that every such process should be properly organised. From the organisational point of view, these elections were perfectly normal. They had a definite political outcome. In general, they reflect the political preferences of our citizens.
Nevertheless, the elections sparked a lot of emotion for a number of parties who were not completely satisfied with the results. I was asked for a meeting as part of regular meetings with the leaders of the Duma's parties. We met and had a good, productive discussion on all issues: from the Address [to the Federal Assembly (Russian parliament)] through to the election results. Both prior to and during this conversation our colleagues raised a number of issues and questioned certain aspects of the Central Election Commission’s work as well as results at some polling stations.
You know what I said to them. All types of claims must be investigated thoroughly, each and every claim, in accordance with the powers vested in the Central Election Commission and applicable procedures. All these claims, all these questions must be answered. In essence, I think that there must be a judicial response, otherwise we will just move our political system in the wrong direction. No one has contested a judicial review of the results. I think this is absolutely normal. Almost all the leaders of the political parties, the Duma factions, agree that the results of these elections reflect an accurate political picture.
Certain irregularities which have been identified and problems that have arisen should be taken into account in the future activities of the Central Election Commission. I mean not only as an ad hoc response to certain violations. This is your lawful duty, just as political parties benefit from the opportunity to go to court. It is necessary to draw conclusions concerning proposals that could be used to improve our electoral system.
Our electoral system is still being developed and is quite young –universal, direct and equal suffrage by secret ballot has actually been taking place in Russia for only 20 years, and meanwhile the rules are changing. In general an electoral system cannot be conservative. Even in countries with an established democracy, electoral rules change quite regularly because voting technology changes, additional opportunities arise, or ideas about the electoral system change. We must also be reasonably conservative, but still look to the future. Therefore, in the Presidential Address I will make a proposal on how to improve the electoral system, including in light of elections that were held in October, but not only those. As Chairman of the Central Election Commission you would be asked to take active part in this process.
chairman of the Central Election Commission Vladimir Churov: I would like to show you how carefully we handle, per your instructions, each and every application received. This is an interim report. We'll be giving you the final results on October 31. Every application, every complaint is being examined more than once, and those that need to be processed by the judiciary are being turned over to the courts.
Dmitry Medvedev: Do you send them on yourself?
Vladimir Churov: Yes, either I or my colleagues in the region. Before voting day there were 47 cases related to the registration of candidates. According to the Central Election Commission and the Prosecutor General's Office, the Office dealt with 196 cases, including those from electoral commissions at every level. They referred 69 cases to the courts, but you have to take into account that 6700 election were held in 20,000 polling stations, and the campaign is not yet over. November 1 is the date set for the second round, where the result is decide by an absolute majority vote.
On November 24 we plan to invite the chairpersons of the Russian regional election commissions where elections will take place on a next single day of voting, and these elections promise to be much more tense. Eight regions will be electing their legislative authoritie. We want to invite the leaders of all seven Russian parties to this meeting to discuss preparations for the election day in question together.
Dmitry Medvedev: This is very important, especially because in my meetings with the various parties, and contrary to popular perception, it wasn't just the parties that we refer to as the opposition that have been raising questions, but United Russia as well. And there were a lot of issues. They all made suggestions, some of which I sent on to the Central Election Commission. Please take a look at them.
Vladimir Churov: Absolutely.
We also always discuss technical innovations in the electoral process with the parties. I would like to present you with another report on these technical innovations, and they do not require any legislative changes. If we introduce them by 2011, that should address a number of concerns raised by the parties.