Twenty-eight people were tried for electoral crimes* in Russia in the first half of 2021. Against 19 of them, criminal cases were terminated. The Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation published court statistics for the first half of 2021.
In the first half of 2021, the maximum punishment for electoral crimes imposed by the courts was a year and a half of suspended imprisonment. It was passed in relation to two people; fines were imposed by the courts in relation to seven people.
Criminal cases for the electoral crimes against 19 persons were dropped on non-rehabilitative grounds; all of the defendants confessed to the crimes.
Criminal cases against two persons were terminated due to active repentance. Seventeen people were fined by the court** and the cases against them were terminated. As a rule, court fines are imposed in the range of 50,000 rubles.
The trend of mass dismissal of criminal cases for electoral crimes, which the 'Golos' Movement noted in 2018, continues. Penalties for electoral crimes remain extremely lenient and do not involve real imprisonment.
We have compiled the top 3 crimes for the first half of 2021. The selected crimes perfectly characterize the elections in Russia and demonstrate the impunity for the crimes committed.
The first place goes to Svetlana Shesterinova, deputy chair of the Ibresino Territorial Election Commission (TEC) from Chuvashia; she also served as the manager of the administration of the Ibresino district of the Chuvash Republic.
In September 2020, during the election campaign, she falsified the applications of two previously convicted rural deputy candidates nominated by United Russia. In their applications to run in the elections, neither of them mentioned any criminal records as this could have led to their disqualification from the elections.
As it became known from the verdict, United Russia candidates were dealt with personally by Svetlana Shesterinova, as she kept the applications and other documents from these candidates separately. She gave instructions to the heads of rural settlements in the Ibresino region of Chuvashia to gather the documents for the nomination of United Russia candidates. Applications on behalf of the candidates were typed on their personal computers by the administrative personnel of the rural settlements.
On March 5, 2021, Ibrsinsk district court of Chuvashia fined Svetlana Shesterinova 100 thousand rubles for falsifying election documents (Part 1 of the Article 142 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).
The second place goes to Svetlana Sverchkova, chair of Precinct Election Commission (PEC) No. 374 from Penza Oblast. She falsified the election results at her polling station in September of 2020.
Svetlana Sverchkova 'by her own hand, knowingly marked 1,324 unused ballots (662 of each of the two kinds of ballots) with false information, marking them in favor of one of the candidates in the election, and placed them in a stationary ballot box.' Only 204 people actually took part in the elections.
On June 16, 2021, Bessonovsky District Court of Penza Oblast sentenced the PEC chairman to punishment under Article 142.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation - a year and a half of suspended imprisonment.
The third place is given to Lyudmila Skiba, chair of PEC No. 298 from Rostov Oblast. During the gubernatorial elections in Rostov region, she stuffed falsified ballots into a stationary ballot box.
The first batch included 337 and the second 264 ballots. In total, the PEC chair threw in 601 ballots in the oblast gubernatorial election.
On April 7, 2021, Azovskiy city court of Rostov region dismissed the criminal case; the chair of the PEC was fined 50 thousand rubles.
* Election crimes are criminal cases under the following articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation:
** A court fine is a court-imposed measure of criminal-law character, which is not criminal punishment and does not entail a criminal record.