A few weeks ago, La Russophobe reported on the interesting decision of the Kremlin to make an accountant its Defense Minister. Now, continuing the same “logic,” the Kremlin announces that a physicist will be placed in charge of electoral fairness. What’s next, a pastry chef at the United Nations? Monsters & Critics reports:
With presidential and parliamentary elections looming in the next year, Russia’s Central Elections Commission Tuesday voted Vladimir Churov, a physicist and acquaintance of President Vladimir Putin, as its new chairman.
The commission voted 13-2 to make Churov its head. There were no other candidates for the position. Churov’s appointment came after Putin chose not to renominate two-time commission chair Alexander Veshnyakov following regional elections earlier this month. Veshnyakov, whose tenure began in 1999, had made it clear he was interested in a third term. No explanation has been given for his omission from the elections body.
Media have speculated that criticism of initiatives launched by United Russia, the country’s main pro-Kremlin party, caused Veshnyakov to be considered a possible risk during 2008 presidential elections and 2007 parliamentary elections. After being elected Tuesday, Churov told members of the elections commission that, unlike Veshnyakov, he was ‘inclined to a lesser degree to comment on the existing law and more (inclined) to carry it out,’ Interfax reported.
The former physicist, who worked under Putin in St Petersburg’s city hall in the 1990s, said the commission would be not ‘indifferent, but equally close, to all parties.’ Lyubov Sliska, deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament and a member of United Russia, called Churov a ‘very responsible person and a brave deputy.’ Churov was elected to parliament in 2003 as a member of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party. During the new commission’s first meeting on Tuesday, ex-head Veshnyakov used his parting address to criticize recent legislation increasing the minimum number of members a political party must have to 50,000 from 10,000. He also spoke out against the practice of prominent party members winning party-list nominations, only to step down and give their seat to a less-known party member. But, he said, his departure should not be seen as ‘an expulsion of people who advocate democratic principles in Russian elections,’ adding in remarks quoted by Interfax, ‘it’s certainly not that way.’
Vladislav Surkov, an adviser to Putin, said Tuesday the Russian president would award Veshnyakov for his ‘service before the fatherland.’