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Nizhny Novgorod
By Yevgenia Borisova

In Nizhny Novgorod, Governor Ivan Sklyarov was also accused by the Communists of pressuring the electorate to vote for Vladimir Putin, but the region has seen no allegations of fraud or forged votes.

"We did not find any direct fraud here," said Oleg Kotelnikov, a regional Communist Party secretary and member of the Nizhny Novgorod elections commission.

"But our administration used its resources to the point of obolvanivaniye [brainwashing] the people to achieve the programmed results - Putin's victory," Kotelnikov added.

Sklyarov was not coy about stating his political preferences. At a meeting with regional officials just after the elections, he blasted the supervisors of those regions where Zyuganov had won for failing to organize the electoral process properly.

"This post-factum revealed the fact that there were orders given prior to the elections," said Kotelnikov.

The governor even threatened at that time that heads would roll, but in the end, not a single official was fired for failing to produce the desired election results.

Kotelnikov said he had information that Sklyarov was pressuring heads of district administrations to organize elections in favor of Putin.

"I knew, of course, that Sklyarov was pressuring the local administrators before [the elections]," said Kotelnikov. "I visited several districts before the elections and spoke with the heads of each administration. Many told me they were ordered to make Putin win."

Kotelnikov said segments of Sklyarov's March 27 speech admonishing his subordinates were shown on television and published in the local press. Kotelnikov used these media reports to make a complaint that Sklyarov had abused his post with the regional election commission as well as the Central Election Commission.

"The Central Commission did not react - they just pushed it back to our regional commission," said Kotelnikov. "Here they sort of admitted it, but no action was taken. The prosecutor's office also replied that they found no evidence that the governor abused his position."

Kotelnikov could pursue the matter, but he does not see the point.

"What's the use of filing the complaint further up to the General Prosecutor's office? It is just a waste of time," he said sadly.

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