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Opposition prolongs first-ever internal poll citing internet attacks

Published time: October 22, 2012 10:11
Edited time: October 22, 2012 14:11
Police apprehend a man who tried to make a provocation during a rally on Trubnaya Square in Moscow to support opposition's coordinating council election.(RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

Police apprehend a man who tried to make a provocation during a rally on Trubnaya Square in Moscow to support opposition's coordinating council election.(RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

The poll to elect the joint council of the Russian opposition had to be prolonged for one day due to hacker attacks on the polling website, say the organizers of the unprecedented political event.

The non-system Russian opposition is holding a poll to elect the members of what they call the Coordination Council – a 45-member panel that can be joined by anyone who is ready to pay a relatively low registration fee of 10,000 rubles (about US$300) and hopes that his agenda will attract enough supporters from those who were ready to undergo registration and also pay a small fee to cast their vote.

After the election, the council will represent those who voted in talks with the state authorities and other political movements.

Initially it was planned that the winners of the elections would be announced on the evening of the last day of the election, Sunday. However, after the voting started the organizers encountered a massive DDoS attack on their server. As a result the voting was prolonged for one day and the winners are to be announced on Monday evening.

The person in charge of the poll – up-and-coming politician Leonid Volkov – said in a press interview that it was his mistake to pay little attention to internet security. Volkov also noted that he will prolong the voting for “as long as it takes to vote for all those who want to.”

The number of those who potentially have such an intention is about 87,000 – although the number of registered voters has exceeded 160,000, the verification procedure diminished their number by almost half.

This huge difference could possibly be explained by the fact that one of the most notorious figures in the Russian politics – the pyramid scheme veteran Sergey Mavrodi – has tried to hijack the elections through his new pyramid called MMM2012.

After Mavrodi called upon the members of the scheme to register as voters and candidates, the organizers of the poll understood that it threatened the whole event and decided to bar Mavrodi’s people both from running and from voting.

Finding legal justification for the move initially seemed a tough task, but soon it appeared that Mavrodi’s candidates had not provide any data about themselves in the application forms, which is against the rules. As for the voting, Leonid Volkov has said that political vote cannot be cast under pressure and Mavrodi’s calls to those who financially depend on him should be considered as such.

However, even before the vote the events took an unexpected turn as the Prosecutor General’s Office began a criminal case last week into the theft of registration fees from Mavrodi’s people.

No suspect in the case has been determined, but the formula of charges suggests that the prosecutors are after the creators of the election website. The aggrieved party is 64 citizens from Mavrodi’s supporters who sent 10,000 rubles each to register as candidates, had their candidacies rejected, yet did not get their money back.

The organizers explained that they simply could not return the money as, first of all, the rejected candidates did not provide their details and secondly the fees were received as voluntary donations and the law and bookkeeping instructions do not allow for the return of donations without a written application from the donor.

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