Monday, October 22, 2007

#123: Referendum

As in the past, yesterday's referendum was just another show. Almost everyone who went to vote encountered the same problems: somebody had already voted for them, their parents, siblings. Plus, don't forget that every family in Kyrgyzstan has at least 1 person abroad, temporarily or permanently.

My fellow bloggers all wrote about similar stories how they found other people's signatures against their names in the voters' lists. I went to vote after 6pm on the way to buys some food. I did not find my name in the list although I had been living there for almost 2 years. They included me in the additional list, but they did not check my propiska, Soviet-era residence registration stamp. You have to have your propiska to be able to vote in one place.

Ballot-stuffing was omnipresent. People witnessed hundreds of cases. One of my colleagues said a person dropped around 500 (!) ballots at a time. Observers are saying that in reality only 30% of people voted, while officially the turnout was more than 80%. As by divine intervention, 75% of people voted both for the Constitution and the Elections Code, according to the government. It did not want to look shameless to put 99% of "approval of government's policies."

Although I was starting to have doubts about early parliamentary elections - President's Ak-Jol party is not doing particularly well among the public (although public opinion never mattered in Kyrgyzstan) - the President today dissolved the Parliament. Elections are expected to be in mid-December, probably 16th.

In a way, I blame the Kyrgyz people for letting this happen to our country. We forget things easily. On Saturday I was watching the National TV, which was showing "special edition of news" on Bakiev's visit to his homeregion Jalalabad. In every village he visited, the local government had prepared dejurniy aksakals (literally, 'on-duty elderly'), who were ready to praise the president "on behalf of the whole community." The National TV also portrayed these speeches as a sign of "community support and confidence in the President's policies." We have been there with Askar Akaev.

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