Russians need to register to watch live poll broadcast

January 20th, 2012 - 7:13 am ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Jan 20 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russian voters interested in watching live broadcasts from polling stations during the March 4 presidential elections will have to provide their contact details at a state-run website, a government official said.

The still-unnamed website for the broadcasts will go online Feb 1, and registration will be open till March 3, said Pavel Pugachyov, department head at the communications and press ministry.

“Registration will require providing your full name, as well as e-mail or telephone number to allow getting in touch with the person” in case they report a violation, Pugachyov said.

A 13-billion-ruble ($410 million) programme to fit the country’s 94,000-plus polling stations nationwide with web cameras was launched in December and is being implemented.

The programme followed allegations of widespread vote rigging at the State Duma elections in December. Opposition activists insisted up to 15 percent of the vote might have been rigged in favour of the ruling United Russia, though the party and government officials said the violations were not enough to affect distribution of seats in the parliament.

The idea to vote under real-time surveillance comes from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, head of United Russia and a favorite of the presidential race.

Putin, a target of recent sweeping street protests, has repeatedly said he is interested in fair elections.

The website for vote broadcasts will have a special standardised form to report violations spotted that way, Pugachyov said.

However, Natalia Yevdokimova of the St. Petersburg human rights council said the law allows courts to reject video recordings submitted as evidence of wrongdoing.

“The courts are to treat it as recommendation, not evidence, because doing otherwise requires amending the legislation,” she said.

Sixty-three percent of the population support installing surveillance cameras at polling stations, and only 13 are against it, said state-run Public Opinion Foundation, citing a poll held last week. The survey covered 1,500 respondents.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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