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Meeting with Central Election Commission Chairperson Ella Pamfilova

November 6, 2020, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Chairperson of the Central Election Commission Ella Pamfilova.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Ms Pamfilova.

Chairperson of the Central Election Commission Ella Pamfilova: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: You wanted to discuss election results.

Ella Pamfilova: Yes, Mr Putin.

But first, I would like to say that, pandemic aside, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory. My colleagues from the regions and I decided to make our modest contribution to marking this anniversary. I would like to present this photo album to you. It covers an exhibition that we arranged together with the Contemporary History Museum by gathering more than 6,000 artefacts related to the first post-war election to the USSR Supreme Soviet that took place on February 10, 1946.

This was a unique experience: when we had all the exhibits, we saw not only how this election was organised, but also how people lived at the time, and how people came together to rebuild the country from the ruins of war. Everyone chipped in so that polling stations could open: people brought chairs, tables, and even petroleum lamps because there was no electricity. This goes to say that people attached great importance to the vote, and were enthusiastic about rebuilding the country, and this election was extremely important for them.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.

Ella Pamfilova: This was our modest contribution to ensuring that the younger generation knows, remembers and can feel proud.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.

Ella Pamfilova: Thank you for your understanding.

As for the election results, the main takeaway from the past campaign is that more people view the election as being legitimate. This is what opinion polls carried out after the September election showed. Polls by VTsIOM showed that 71 percent of those who cast their ballots trust the election results.

About 79 percent were satisfied with the way we ensured sanitary and epidemiological safety, and 84 percent of those who voted in the election noticed the convenience of extending the voting process to three days. In fact, 77 percent of the respondents suggested that we maintain this approach during the next election.

Mr President, in this connection I would like to have an in-depth discussion with you on one issue. It concerns dividing the educational and election processes at the systemic legal level, because nearly half of our polling stations are located in schools. I have a proposal, which I would like to discuss with you later.

The range of representation was very broad: members of 21 parties and three electoral associations have been elected, and the share of independent candidates was very large this time, about 13 percent of the total. It was a very competitive environment. The number of withdrawals was rather small, less than 5 percent, and only about 3 percent in the case of party candidates. It is a very small number, because nearly all those who prepared for the elections took part in them.

The number of observers continued to grow; this time there were nearly 257,000 of them. This result is largely due to the work of the federal and regional public chambers, because it was the number of public observers that has increased. We are working together with them, because we believe that it is very important for the people to trust, check and then feel confident in the voting results.

Mr President, for the first time – we never did this before – after the sensational news about the election of a young cleaning woman as the head of a village council in Kostroma Region…

Vladimir Putin: Why not?

Ella Pamfilova: Why is it presented as a sensation? We have analysed the social and demographic composition, and the resulting picture is very interesting. If I may, I would like to update you on the figures.

Vladimir Putin: Please, this is very interesting.

Ella Pamfilova: First of all, this example shows that there are broad avenues not only for social mobility, but also for political mobility in our society and country. The range of representation is very broad: various types of office employees make up at least 37 percent, followed by teachers and university lecturers who take an active part in various elections (nearly 16 percent), and representatives of vocational trades such as drivers, machine operators and metalworkers come in third.

By the way, I would like to tell you that a cleaning woman is not a sensation: we have 23 dairy women, 11 calf women, 34 stokers (they are probably following in the footsteps of Viktor Tsoi, only he chose music and they opted for politics), two blacksmiths, 24 game keepers and 11 sheep herders. All these are vocational trades.

Vladimir Putin: It is just that these people know the problems of their communities.

Ella Pamfilova: And people know them and respect them for their deeds. But there are also 17 university rectors, and very many teachers, nearly 6,000, as well as over 1,000 kindergarten teachers and, lastly, 432 children’s sports coaches. This is the statistics.

Something else surprised us. There are slightly more blue-collar workers than entrepreneurs: blue-collar representatives account for around 11.5 percent, and entrepreneurs – slightly less than 11 percent. The proportion of housewives is smaller, but they are also eagerly elected, and pensioners – about 9 percent, doctors and medics – about 5 percent overall.

What is interesting – very few deputies were re-elected, almost none of them, less than 1 percent – and this is a sign. This suggests that voters have become more demanding, they have more stringent requirements, and those who are deputies now and intend to stay should think about that. Less than 1 percent, just like such people as film directors, artists, actors – there is an insignificant share. People watch what you said and what you actually did. I think we need to keep this precedent in mind for future elections.

There are countries that introduce quotas for women. But we are close to gender parity without any quotas: 55 percent men, 45 percent women. The age span is also large. The main group, aged 30 to 60, accounts for 82 percent, but we also have five very young people, 18 years old.

I would like to tell you about one young woman. Angelina Motyakina grew up in a large family; she is now a student at a medical college, volunteers, and does charity work. People have shown her confidence – she is now a deputy of the Oryol City Council.

We have another unique person. I just mentioned 18-year-old deputies, and he, on the other hand, is the oldest. He will be – how old do you think? – 96 on November 7. His name is Zinatulla Gizatullin; he is a teacher, a decorated veteran, and a holder of the Order of the Patriotic War. He fought during the entire war, and still works as director of a museum in Tatarstan, a school museum. Those are unique people.

Vladimir Putin: God grant him good health.

Ella Pamfilova: I would like to say that it is the result that matters. We have a broad popular representation based on direct free elections. I always point this out when I compare what we have with those who always criticise us.

Vladimir Putin: You are constantly studying foreign experience.

Ella Pamfilova: We are.

Now back to our plans, I will go over them briefly. Even though we have had two intensive campaigns and no respite, we have already begun preparing for the next campaign. It will be a difficult one, we are aware of that – the federal campaign has multiple layers and involves more than the State Duma election, there will be other kinds of campaigns.

When I mentioned that the realisation of legitimacy and trust are growing, this must not be interpreted as a sign to relax because we can work very hard and then lose everything in one go. People now have become more demanding and setting tougher requirements not only to those whom they elect but also to us. Therefore, we cannot just sit back at this point.

Together we have done a lot in this respect. Thank you for your support. We have introduced video monitoring and QR-codes. The mobile elector application is also working. Now we are at the stage where we are about to master e-signature verification.

Our main goal for the future is to create by 2022 a digital platform that will replace our time-honoured automated system – GAS Elections. This will increase to the utmost the potentials of all the participants in the electoral process: voters, parties, nominees, observers and journalists. All this will be done taking into account the interests of the voters.

And, of course, right now we are working on remote e-voting. We are doing this with utmost caution because it is very important not to undermine trust but rather to earn it. In other words, the goal of everything we are doing today is aimed at making irreversible all the processes aimed at building trust and legitimacy.

And, Mr President, I have several matters that I would like to discuss, in particular, if I may, the future of the municipal filter, and some other issues.

Vladimir Putin: Fine.

I am aware that you are researching foreign know-how and introducing new systems, including digital technology, as you have just said. You are always striving to get authentic results and increase the speed of the final count so that nobody has any doubt, be it the voters or representatives of various organisations and parties.

I would like to thank you again, as I have already done. I would like to use this meeting as an opportunity to thank also all those who worked in the election commissions at different levels. I know this is always difficult but also dangerous in conditions of the pandemic. You have been through this and done everything at top level, in an organised manner, in accordance with the law and in close contact with the people. In terms of legitimacy, the result is certainly very good.

Thank you.

Ella Pamfilova: Thank you very much. This is means a lot for my colleagues.


November 6, 2020, The Kremlin, Moscow