The Kremlin is planning to boost the ruling party's showing in Sunday's Russian parliamentary elections, the Guardian reports, by forcing millions of public employees to vote, and to vote the right way. Doctors, teachers, and public sector workers are being bullied to vote for United Russia, Vladimir Putin's party, or risk losing their jobs or perks. Thousands of local officials have been assigned to help engineer a Putin triumph.
Teachers have been coerced to sign pledges; students have been told they must vote for the party to keep dormitory places, the Guardian learned in interviews. Regional governors are being told to deliver at least 65% of the vote for United Russia. Although Putin is not allowed to run for another term as president, he is expected to use a large majority to craft a continuing role for himself as "national leader."