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Editor says Russian reporter accused after exposing vote fraud

September 28, 2016

A Russian journalist on Wednesday appeared in court accused of “election fraud” after exposing a voting fraud scheme during parliamentary elections earlier this month, his editor said.

The reporter for news website Fontanka.Ru, Denis Korotkov, was briefly detained at a polling station in Saint Petersburg on September 18 and accused of “attempting to vote for somebody else.”

His employer however said that Korotkov had been investigating and planning to expose a typical scheme of fraudulent voting when groups of people are bussed around voting several times, often for a reward.

“Our journalist denounced fraud publicly and he’s the one who is being arrested. That to me is more than strange,” Fontanka editor in chief Alexander Gorshkov told AFP.

By law a voter is provided with one ballot after signing for it in a book at their local polling station that lists registered voters by their address.

Korotkov was successful in getting a ballot after a source said he needed to put a sticker inside his passport as a signal to a polling station officer who was in on the scheme. In this way, according to Fontanka, he was able to vote several times.

The journalist finished his investigation by publicly confronting polling station staff who called the police and accused him of fraud.

His editor said he still hoped that “common sense” would prevail in the court case, which was postponed Wednesday but could ultimately see Korotkov fined some 3,000 rubles (about $46).

According to vote observers, the September 18 elections were less mired in fraud than the previous ones in 2011, which led to massive protests, although there were still many reports of ballot stuffing and repeat voting.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.