Israel Shamir argues that Pavel Grudinin doing relatively well east of the Urals – then declining in the (much more populated) European Russia – constitutes evidence of fraud.
The first true results coming from the Russian Far East gave over 20% to the Communist, and about 60% to Putin. It seems that the administration overseers who reportedly had backdoor access to the results decided to ‘improve’ them forcefully. The results received after that were already adjusted for desired numbers.
In the far-away Yakut province, with its mind-boggling frost of minus 35 ° below zero, the Communist contender has got almost 30% of the vote. In the Vladivostok province, in the region facing Japan, Grudinin has got over 20%, likewise in the Siberian university city of Omsk. On the other side, in the notoriously dishonest and despotic Muslim republic of Chechnya the contender was given less than 5%.
My guess is that true uncooked results would be between 18% and 25% for the Communist, and correspondingly, around 60-65% for the incumbent, still good enough for Putin’s outright win, but not good enough for his zealous aides.
This is unlikely to be true, since all the statisticians who regularly analyze Russian electoral fraud – needless to say, virtually all of them anti-Putin – agree that this election has been the cleanest one since 2004.
Still, this electoral pattern still needs to be explained, especially since it constitutes a break with the old pattern of Communists doing relatively best in the Russian South, the so-called Red Belt.
Map by Artem Dudin of the change between votes for Kharitonov in 2004 [Russia = 13.8%] and for Grudinin in 2018 [Russia = 11.8%]. Red = Grudinin lost votes, Blue = Grudinin gained votes.
1. Putin’s rating has significantly increased amongst the elderly, which is the core of the Communists’ demographic base.
This is very plausible, e.g. as I pointed out via VCIOM polls – whereas around 82% of the elderly were saying they were going to vote for Putin, this was only 65% amongst 18-24 year olds.
2. TV vs. Internet: In contrast to European Russia, the country east of the Urals relies relatively more on the Internet for news, as opposed to TV.
Search popularity for TV (blue) vs. Internet (red).
This is because most live broadcasts are primed for release in the Moscow time zone during the evening, so easterners do more catching up on the news via Internet the following morning.
If Putin dominates TV, and most billboards on the streets were dominated by Zhirinovsky, it was Grudinin who was this election’s “Internet candidate”, up to and including generating its most famous (if ironic) meme: “кандидат от народа” ["candidate from the people"].
3. European Russians are more interested in the Russian Spring (Novorossiya, Igor Girkin, etc.) than in the east.
Alexander Kireev: Interest in search terms.
As I have often pointed out, Grudinin was easily the most pro-Ukrainian candidate – as in the least interested in supporting the Donbass – besides the liberals Sobchak and Yavlinsky.
And during the debates, Zhirinovsky was there to drive that point in over and over again.