The website of Golos,
an independent election monitoring organisation was down. Golos has
faced massive official harassment in the lest few days, including a
court fine and the detention of its director whose laptop was
confiscated by customs at Sheremetevo airport on Saturday. Golos is
partly funded by USAID and European countries, and was the target of a
propagandistic attack by state TV channel NTV on Friday, alleging the
organisation takes its orders from western intelligence services whose
goal is to disrupt Russian elections.
The attacks came amid allegations of violations almost exclusively on
the part of United Russia, which according to polls will struggle to
achieve a majority in the election.
At a polling station in the centre of Moscow, an enclave known for
being more liberal than the rest of the country, a few voters said they
would vote for United Russia, but others said they had grown sick of the
"The elections come and [United Russia] says everything will get
better and then everything goes back to the way it was,” said Vyacheslav
Chuvalyev, referring to the party’s campaign messages and pre-election
Andrei Khrenov, a film critic, said he was angered by the media
blackout that had taken place. "The power is trying to do everything
they can do to suppress but still the Russian electorate doesn’t see
many people it can trust.”
Golos has, in co-operation with others created a ‘Map of Electorial
Violations’ [kartanarusheniy.ru] which is intended to collect evidence
of violations, though this website and those websites that have linked
to it have come under sustained DDOS attack on Sunday.
Other sites which continued to hang the banner linking to this map,
such as the website of Ekho Moskvy, a politically neutral radio station
which gives airtime to opposition groups, was also down due to DDOS
attack since early in the morning.
The Twitter account of Snob.ru, a high end Moscow magazine, confirmed
that the DDOS attacks, measuring roughly 50,000 hits a second, have hit
every website which hangs the Golos "map of violations” link.
While Russia’s internet is largely uncensored, the scale of the
attacks calls into question how free of political interference the
internet really is. Nashi, a Kremlin backed youth group, is known to run
a special "directorate” of cyberwarfare specialists which have chalked
up a number of impressive cyber attacks, including the attack on Estonia
in 2007, which knocked out a number of official and commercial websites
for days. All that is required, according to hackers is a few dozen
like minded activists to run the same tools on their computers, which
enlist zombie computers and deluge websites with traffic that they
cannot cope with, taking them out of action.
Slon.ru, a Kremlin-owned, Russian news service radio station,
opposition weekly New Times, and Livejournal, a blogging website which
has carried many reports on falsification, also appeared to be down due
to DDOS attacks.
Anti-Kremlin activists had to rely mainly on Twitter and Facebook,
which have far greater server capacity and thus able to withstand
attack, to update their followers.
Ekho Moskvy, a Moscow radio station which is majority-owned by
Gazprom, the state-owned oil and gas group, but has a more independent
editorial line, reported on 30 students in the Moscow suburb of Strgino
being paid 4000 roubles to participate in a "karousel” in which they get
on a bus and vote at several different precincts throughout the day.
Activists set up a website to publicise the phenomenon, antikarusel.ru.
Meanwhile, Golos tweeted a video of a woman who identifies herself as
a Nashi activist buying absentee ballots for 500 rouble apiece in
And in Perm, a city in the eastern part of Russia, Golos linked to a
video showing the local voting precinct had already signed the voting
protocols, recording final totals, before the voting had even begun on
The violations, almost exclusively on the side of United Russia
party, appeared to show the measures the party is prepared to take to
cling to power. According to polls, it will struggle to get even a
majority on Sunday versus a two-thirds majority in the last 2007