Oh dear, oh dear. What a storm of outrage there has been over the Russian elections!
Nobody is suggesting that a completely free and fair election would have yielded a different result. Nonetheless, "restrictions on opposition candidates and bias in the state media made the contest unequal" (Telegraph); "the poll was marred by violations" (BBC); "regional and local officials had compelled many public sector workers to vote for Medvedev" (Guardian).
The body all these outlets have been quoting - the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe - had the following to say on the subject of electoral fraud in the United Kingdom:
It is clear that the electoral system in Great Britain is open to electoral fraud. This vulnerability is mainly the result of the, rather arcane, system of voter registration without personal identifiers. It was exacerbated by the introduction of postal voting on demand [in 2001] ...That was in January, and you can find it at the House of Commons library here - tacked on to a depressing litany of episodes of vote-rigging and electoral fraud covering most of this country over the last few years.
So our own polls have been "marred by violations" for ages. Not to mention the often absurd and well-documented liberal bias in our own "state media".
Oh, and let's not forget the 100,000 Scottish voters who were summarily disfranchised during last May's elections to their mini-parliament through failures in the (untried) electronic voting system.
Before getting too carried away about Russia's electoral shortcomings, therefore, it would well behove Britain's press pack to pay heed to our own recent history of electoral criminality, media bias and administrative incompetence.
Once, we in Britain could look with disdain at unsavoury electoral goings-on abroad. That time, sadly, is long past.