Shwarma, Vodka & Gypsies: How Votes are Bought
On September 10, elections were held in 82 regions of Russia. Public observers reported violations by means a hotline run by activists from "Golos," who announced that bribery of voters had taken place in 15 regions. In many cases, money was not used as a bribe. Sofya Savina studied different methods in which voters were swayed this year.
Bribery of voters, according to Russian laws, is not only perpetrated through the delivery of money in exchange for votes. It can also be done through the transfer of material values and services, or carry out a preferential sale of goods and promise voters any compensation for a voting for a certain candidate. Violators can be fined 20 to 500 thousand rubles.
Golos reported that 86 instances of voter bribery in different regions of the country appeared on the “Violations Map.” Prices for votes for a particular party or candidate were different. Students voting for Sergei Zhvachkin in gubernatorial elections in the Tomsk region were worth 10 thousand rubles. And one vote for candidate Alexander Boyko to the Legislative Assembly of Novosibirsk from United Russia cost 250 rubles.
In Yaroslavl, voters were called by "social workers" and offered a social card in exchange for participating in elections. In Nizhny Tagil lottery with prizes were arranged at polling stations. Some were not just encouraged to vote a certain way, but were intimidated; according to residents' reports, in the villages of Irkutsk voters’ tires were slashed.
On September 10, candidates paid for votes with entertainment, concerts and excursions. Votes were bought for vodka and bread and market discounts. Shwarma and iphones, gold medals and boxing gloves, gypsies and surfing, our interactive map shows the different ways people’s votes were bought during the elections.