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Russian presidential election, 2008

Presidential elections were held in Russia on 2 March 2008. They resulted in the election of Dmitry Medvedev as the third President of Russia. Medvedev, whose candidacy was supported by incumbent President Vladimir Putin and five political parties (United Russia, Fair Russia, Agrarian Party, Civilian Power, Russian Ecological Party "The Greens"), received 71% of the vote, and defeated candidates from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and the Democratic Party of Russia.[1][2]

Russian presidential election, 2008

← 2004 2 March 2008 2012 →
Opinion polls
Turnout 69.7% Increase 5.4 pp

  Dmitry Medvedev official large photo -5.jpg Gennady Zyuganov Moscow asv2018-01 (cropped).jpg Vladimir Zhirinovsky in 2015.jpg
Nominee Dmitry Medvedev Gennady Zyuganov Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Party United Russia Communist Party LDPR
Home state Moscow Moscow Moscow
Popular vote 52,530,712 13,243,550 6,988,510
Percentage 71.2% 18.0% 9.5%

2008 Russian presidential election map.svg
  Constituencies won by Dmitry Medvedev

President before election

Vladimir Putin

Elected President

Dmitry Medvedev
United Russia


The fairness of the election was disputed, with official monitoring groups giving conflicting reports. Some reported that the election was free and fair, while others reported that not all candidates had equal media coverage and that the opposite to the Kremlin was treated unfairly. Monitoring groups found a number of other irregularities.[3] The European election monitoring group PACE characterized the election as "neither free nor fair."[4]

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) election monitoring group refused to monitor the election because of what it called "severe restrictions on its observers by the Russian government", a charge Russia vehemently rejected, calling the decision "unacceptable".[5][6]



An election ballot listing the presidential candidates

Registered candidatesEdit

Candidates are listed in the order they appear on the ballot paper (alphabetical order in Russian).

Candidate name, age,
political party
Political offices Details Registration date
Andrey Bogdanov
Democratic Party
  Leader of the Democratic Party
Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Russia
Registered as a candidate on January 24. Bogdanov had an investigation opened against him for providing too many forged signatures of support for his nomination, but it was reported that even if the accusations were to be proven, his candidacy would not be dismissed.[7] At 38, he was the young person to run for president in Russia, and kept this record until 2018. 24 January 2008
Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Liberal Democratic Party
  Deputy of the State Duma
Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party
Zhirinovky ran for the presidency on three prior occasions: in 1991, 1996 and 2000. His best result was third with 7.81% support. Registered as a candidate on December 26.[8] 26 December 2007
Gennady Zyuganov
Communist Party
  Deputy of the State Duma
Leader of the Communist Party
Zyuganov ran for president in 1996 (when he came short just a few percent of the votes) and 2000, but not in 2004.[9] Officially nominated on December 15, 2007 with 215 of 218 votes in favor.[10] Registered as a candidate on December 26.[11] 26 December 2007
Dmitry Medvedev
United Russia
  First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia
Kremlin Chief of Staff
Medvedev was nominated by the United Russia party, and supported by the parties A Just Russia, Agrarian Party, The Greens and Civilian Power. In addition he was supported by incumbent president Vladimir Putin. 21 January 2008

Withdrawn candidatesEdit

Candidate name, age,
political party
Political offices Details Registration date Date of withdrawal
Boris Nemtsov
Union of Right Forces
  Deputy of the State Duma
Deputy Prime Minister of Russia
Minister of Fuel and Energy of Russia
Governor of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
Nemtsov was nominated by the Union of Rightist Forces on December 18, 2007[12] and was registered as a candidate on December 22.[13] He withdrew his bid on December 26 and called on his supporters to vote for Mikhail Kasyanov instead.[14] 22 December 2007 26 December 2007

Rejected candidatesEdit

The following candidates were denied registration by the CEC:

Name Party Profession Reason for rejection
Vladimir Bukovsky Independent Activist, Soviet-era dissident[15] On August 3, 2007 Bukovsky received a new Russian passport at the Russian Embassy in London. He arrived in Moscow in October to launch his campaign. His bid was refused on the grounds that he hadn’t lived in Russia over the last 10 years.[16]
Mikhail Kasyanov People's Democratic Union Former Prime Minister and current leader of the People's Democratic Union It was not known if Kasyanov would continue his candidacy after Garry Kasparov entered the race, but on December 8, 2007 he reaffirmed he would run in the election.[17] He successfully registered as a candidate on December 14, but later it was decided that too many of his signatures of support were forged[18] and he was disqualified.[19] Kasyanov appealed the decision to the Supreme Court,[20] which rejected the appeal on February 6, 2008.[21]
Nikolai Kuryanovich Independent Ultra-nationalist politician, former Deputy of the State Duma Kuryanovich failed to hold a meeting of the citizens who supported his bid as an independent and did not provide the necessary number of signatures required for self-nomination.[22]
Oleg Shenin Communist Party of the Soviet Union Leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, a minor hard-left party Shenin's bid was not registered due to bureaucratic mistakes in his documents.[23]


Many Russian politicians publicly indicated their intention to run for president in 2008, but failed to submit their nominations:


Medvedev campaign poster hanging in Moscow's Manezh Square

Following his appointment as First Deputy Prime Minister, many political observers expected Medvedev to be nominated as Putin's successor for the 2008 presidential elections.[31] There were other potential candidates, such as Sergey Ivanov and Viktor Zubkov, but on December 10, 2007, President Putin announced that Medvedev was his preferred successor. Four parties supporting Putin also declared Medvedev to be their candidate to the post – United Russia, A Just Russia, Agrarian Party of Russia and Civilian Power.[32] United Russia held its party congress on December 17, 2007 where by secret ballot of the delegates, Medvedev was officially endorsed as their candidate in the 2008 presidential election.[33] He formally registered his candidacy with the Central Election Commission on December 20, 2007 and said he would step down as chairman of Gazprom, since under the current laws, the president was not permitted to hold another post.[34] Sources close to Gazprom and Medvedev told the Vedomosti newspaper that Medvedev might be replaced by Putin at Gazprom.[35] His registration was formally accepted as valid by the Russian Central Election Commission on January 21, 2008.[36]

Medvedev with Putin at a campaign event

In January 2008, Medvedev launched his presidential campaign with stops in the regions.[37] In his first speech since he was endorsed, Medvedev announced that, as president, he would appoint Vladimir Putin to the post of prime minister to head the Russian government.[38] Although constitutionally barred from a third consecutive presidential term, such a role would allow Putin to continue as an influential figure in Russian politics[39] Putin pledged that he would accept the position of prime minister should Medvedev be elected president. Election posters portrayed the pair side-by-side with the slogan "Together we will win" ("Вместе победим").[40]

Zhirinovsky conducting a whistlestop tour

During the pre-election debates on the Star TV on February 20, Nikolai Gotsa, a representative of Bogdanov, accused Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his party of lying to and betraying their supporters. He accused them of voting in favor of government initiatives they criticize when in public. Zhirinovsky replied fiercely, insulting Gotsa and calling him a "sick man, a schizoid", "bastard", and punched him when they went off the cameras. Bogdanov and Gotsa launched a legal issue against Zhirinovsky. On February 28, in another debate, Bogdanov claimed he had a personal talk with Zhirinovsky, and that the latter had threatened his life and demanded to withdraw the issue.[41]

Opinion pollsEdit

According to opinion polls taken prior to the election, up to 82% of people said that they would vote for Dmitry Medvedev, the candidate endorsed by Vladimir Putin as his preferred successor. The second most popular candidate was Gennady Zuganov, Leader of the Communist Party of Russia, who was expected to receive between 6% and 15% of the vote.[42] An opinion poll by the Yury Levada Analytical Center, taken in September after Vladimir Putin announced he would head the electoral list of United Russia in the 2007 Parliamentary elections, showed a commanding lead for Sergei Ivanov and Dmitry Medvedev, with 34% and 30% of the vote respectively. Viktor Zubkov and Sergei Glazyev received only 4% of the vote each.[43]


Voter invitation card

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, in its capacity as an international election standards watchdog, refused to monitor the election because of what it called severe restrictions on its observers by the Russian government.[44] After weeks of negotiations, Russia agreed to increase the observer numbers for the ODIHR mission and extend the time frame for its visit, but the ODIHR claimed that the offer still didn't meet their requirements, insisting that it needed to send at least 50 of its observers to Russia on February 15, five days before the date proposed by Moscow, in order effectively monitor the election campaign.[5]

Russia responded by insisting that it was complying fully with its international obligations and that its invitation for 400 monitors meets international standards. It accused the OSCE of attempting to politicize the dispute and that it suspected ODIHR's intention from the outset was to boycott the election, saying that the ODIHR had displayed "contempt for basic ethical norms ... which, it seems, indicates that ODIHR from the start was not even trying to agree on mutually acceptable conditions for monitoring."[6]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that

Vladimir Putin voting in the election

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mikhail Kamynin, said "The ODIHR flatly rejected a compromise without providing any clear explanations for its position. We believe such actions are unacceptable." Kamynin added that Moscow "deeply regretted" the OSCE refusal, accusing the organization, which he said generally sends 10-20 experts to observe election campaigns one or two weeks ahead of polls, of political bias against Russia.[5]

An incident arose during the election when three out of nine members of the Biysk Electoral Commission refused to sign the protocols citing widespread falsifications in their Priobsky Division. The rest of commission decided to approve the protocols as the alleged abuse was not reported during the election.[46]

The European election monitoring group PACE characterized the election as "neither free nor fair."[4]

Representatives from the GOLOS monitoring group stated that "the Election Day was held in a relatively quiet atmosphere in contrast to the State Duma election day. Such large-scale violations observed then as campaigning next to polling stations, transporting of voters, intimidation of voters and others were practically non-existent." They did however report irregularities in the election.[3]

The Commonwealth of Independent States observer mission said the election was free, fair and in line with international standards. "The CIS observer mission states that the election is a major factor in the further democratization of public life in the Russian Federation, and recognizes it as free, open and transparent," said Nauryz Aidarov, head of the CIS mission.[47]

A voter places their ballot into the ballot box at a polling station

Observers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization said the election was free, fair and in line with international standards.[48]

An observing group from Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe stated that the result of the election was a "reflection of the will of an electorate whose democratic potential was, unfortunately, not tapped". They said "In the elections, which had more the character of a plebiscite on the last eight years in this country, the people of Russia voted for the stability and continuity associated with the incumbent President and the candidate promoted by him. The President-elect will have a solid mandate given to him by the majority of Russians."[49][50]

The head of Russia's electoral commission Vladimir Churov said that media coverage for the presidential election had been "fair but not equal".[51]

The Economist reported that Medvedev has been mentioned over six times more often than his three rivals in 1,000 different news sources, according to figures from SCAN, a media database owned by Interfax, but stated that this could be due to Medvedev's high-profile job as chairman of the state-owned gas monopoly, Gazprom.[52]

A report by the International Herald Tribune described Medvedev's election as "the culmination of Putin's efforts to consolidate control over the government, business and the news media since taking office eight years ago."[53]

Russian Novaya Gazeta claimed that there were forged election protocols and cases when independent observers were not allowed to monitor the election process.[54] Journalist Victor Shenderovich claims that only 3.5% of voters came to the elections in certain North Caucasus regions according to independent observers, whereas the Central Election committee reporter more than 90% turnaround.[55]


e • d 2 March 2008 Russian presidential election results
Candidates Nominating parties Votes %
Dmitry Medvedev United Russia1 52,530,712 71.2
Gennady Zyuganov Communist Party 13,243,550 18.0
Vladimir Zhirinovsky Liberal Democratic Party 6,988,510 9.5
Andrei Bogdanov Democratic Party 968,344 1.3
Invalid/blank ballots 1,105,533
Total 74,746,649 100
Registered voters/turnout 107,222,016 69.7
Source: Nohlen & Stöver[56]

1 Medvedev was also endorsed by Agrarian Party, Fair Russia, Russian Ecological Party - "The Greens" and Civilian Power, but was officially nominated as a United Russia candidate.


According to Russia Today, many in the Western media portrayed Russia's presidential election as nothing but a farce. It reported that the claims of rigging the election were not supported by the various international election monitoring organizations in attendance.[57][not in citation given]

Political analyst and United Russia member, Sergei Markov, said that the outcome of this poll was predetermined because of how much support the Russian people show for Vladimir Putin's policies. "The Russian people have seen how successful these policies have been, and they want them to continue", he says. Markov cited fears that the West would interfere and change the course of the election, like they did in Ukraine and Georgia.[58]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Reintroducing: The Democratic Party Of Russia, The eXile, June 15, 2007.
  2. ^ Presidential candidate Bogdanov denies Kremlin ties, Reuters, January 30, 2008.
  3. ^ a b STATEMENT # 3 OF GOLOS ASSOCIATION ON THE RESULTS OF SHORT-TERM MONITORING OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS ON MARCH 2, 2008 Archived April 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., The GOLOS Association, Moscow, March 3, 2008
  4. ^ a b Hooper, By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow and Duncan. "Russian election". Retrieved 2016-04-19.
  5. ^ a b c Wrap: OSCE election watchdog to boycott Russian polls - tensions rise, RIA Novosti, February 7, 2008
  6. ^ a b Election watchdog scraps plans to monitor Russian vote Archived 2008-02-08 at National Post Retrieved on March 19, 2008
  7. ^ Прокуратура выявила факт подделки подписей в поддержку Богданова. Но участь Касьянова ему не грозит. 2008-01-31.
  8. ^ Центральная избирательная комиссия Российской Федерации Archived March 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Kommersant Moscow. Zyuganov Announces His Presidential Bid Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine.. 2007-06-11
  10. ^ ITAR-TASS Communist leader Zyuganov nominated for Russia presidency[permanent dead link]. 2007-12-15.
  11. ^ Центральная избирательная комиссия Российской Федерации Archived March 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Kyiv Post. Russian opposition party SPS nominates Nemtsov as presidential candidate Archived December 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Центральная избирательная комиссия Российской Федерации Archived March 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ "RIA Novosti - Russia - Opposition candidate Nemtsov quits Russian presidential race". Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  15. ^ The Moscow Times. Bukovsky to Run for President 2007-05-29
  16. ^ Об отказе в регистрации группы избирателей, созданной для поддержки самовыдвижения Владимира Константиновича Буковского кандидатом на должность Президента Российской Федерации, и ее уполномоченных представителей Archived December 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ People's Daily Online. Russian ex-PM nominated presidential candidate. 2007-12-08.
  18. ^ "Investigators Target Kasyanov Camp". 2008-01-23. Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  19. ^ "Europe | Kasyanov barred from Russian poll". BBC News. 2008-01-27. Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  20. ^ (2008-02-02). "Former Russian PM challenges refusal to register him as presidential candidate - People's Daily Online". Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  21. ^ (2008-02-06). "Russian court rejects former PM's request to enter presidential race - People's Daily Online". Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  22. ^ ЦИК РФ не допустил Курьяновича к участию в президентских выборах
  23. ^ ЦентрИзбирКом . Постановление Об отказе в регистрации группы избирателей, созданной для поддержки самовыдвижения Олега Семеновича Шенина кандидатом на должность Президента Российской Федерации, и ее уполномоченных представителей
  24. ^ Accidental Allies in Russian Politics. 2007-06-15.q
  25. ^ Kasparov Says He Was Forced to End Bid for Presidency, Andrew Kramer, The New York Times, December 13, 2007
  26. ^ Мэр Архангельска получил три года условно; приговор будет оспорен(in Russian), Igor Kluchnikov, Radio Svoboda, March 6, 2008
  27. ^ The Moscow Times. Gulyayev to Run for President. 2007-06-26.
  28. ^ The Moscow Times. Yavlinsky Ready to Run in '08. 2007-06-18.
  29. ^ "Liberal Yavlinsky, perennial Russian candidate, not running for president". International Herald Tribune. 2009-03-29. Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  30. ^ RIA Novosti A Just Russia party will not nominate presidential candidate. 2007-12-07.
  31. ^ Russia: President's Potential Successor Debuts At Davos. January 31, 2007.
  32. ^ (in Russian) Дмитрий Медведев выдвинут в президенты России
  33. ^ United Russia endorses D Medvedev as candidate for presidency Archived 2008-03-04 at the Wayback Machine. ITAR-TASS, December 17, 2007.
  34. ^ Medvedev Registers for Russian Presidency, Will Leave Gazprom, Bloomberg, December 20, 2007.
  35. ^ Putin may become Gazprom chairman, Reuters, December 21, 2007.
  36. ^ (in Russian) О регистрации Дмитрия Анатольевича Медведева кандидатом на должность Президента Российской Федерации Archived 2008-03-05 at the Wayback Machine., Decision No. 88/688-5 of the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, January 21, 2008.
  37. ^ Putin's successor dismisses fears of state "grab", Reuters, January 17, 2008.
  38. ^ Speech by Dmitry A. Medvedev, New York Times, December 11, 2007
  39. ^ Drive Starts to Make Putin 'National Leader' The Moscow Times, November 8, 2007
  40. ^ "World | Europe | Profile: Dmitry Medvedev". BBC News. 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  41. ^ "Bogdanov versus Zhirinovsky, five-year prison term asked". Retrieved 2011-02-19.[permanent dead link]
  42. ^ "Rivals in Kremlin race". BBC News. 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  43. ^ Angus Reid Global Monitor. Ivanov Leads, Zubkov Negligible in Russia Archived 2007-10-08 at the Wayback Machine. 2007-10-03.
  44. ^ Vote rig claim after Putin ally landslide - Archived March 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  45. ^ 300+ monitor Russian poll; OSCE skips Archived 2008-03-03 at the Wayback Machine., Russia Today, March 2, 2008
  46. ^ Voices of outrage in a Biysk territorial election commission(in Russian), FederalPress March 5, 2008
  47. ^ PACE says Medvedev won Russian polls, but doubts fairness, RIA Novosti, March 3, 2008.
  48. ^ Thumping mandate for Medvedev Archived 2008-03-10 at the Wayback Machine. Russia Today Retrieved on March 19, 2008
  49. ^ Russia election not free or fair, say observers by Luke Harding, The Guardian, March 3, 2008
  50. ^ Russian Presidential election: for an election to be good it takes a good process, not just a good election day Archived 2008-03-04 at the Wayback Machine., PACE, Strasbourg, March 3, 2008
  51. ^ Russia official admits media bias BBC News Retrieved on March 19, 2008
  52. ^ No contest The economist [Feb 28th 2008]
  53. ^ Medvedev is victor in Russia election by Clifford J. Levy International Herald Tribune, March 2, 2008
  54. ^ Фальсификация Archived 2008-03-09 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on March 12, 2008
  55. ^ "Шендерович, писатель, журналист Виктор". Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  56. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1661 ISBN 9783832956097
  57. ^ "Slovakia Parliament". Retrieved 2011-02-19.
  58. ^ Viewpoints: Russian presidential election BBC Retrieved on March 12, 2008

External linksEdit