Princeton University Library has purchased a database of digital and digitized ephemera associated with recent highly controversial elections in four republics within the territory of the Former Soviet Union. The materials in these collections document some of the most crucial events in the struggle of post-Soviet fledgling democracies against opposing anti-democratic forces working to reëstablish top-down power structures, often with the support of a Moscow Kremlin maneuvering to reassert dominance over the newly independent states of the region and reverse the centrifugal disaggregation of the post-Soviet sphere. East View Information Services has assembled a body of digital documents associated with recent elections in Russia, Belarus, South Ossetia and the Ukraine, documents produced by legislative bodies, state agencies of electoral oversight, registered and unregistered candidates and political parties, domestic and foreign independent observers, and opposition and protest organizations and movements. The collections contain both digital surrogates of print-format materials gathered on-site and born-digital documents harvested from the Websites of government agencies, political parties and candidates, blogs, etc.
The first collection contains materials associated with the 2010 Presidential Election in Belarus which resulted in the reëlection of the highly controversial incumbent Alexander Lukashenko and drew intense international scrutiny for reputed widespread violations of electoral regulations and human rights, including freedoms of speech, assembly and the press.
The second collection is composed of documents associated with the State Duma Elections in Russia in December 2011, which fomented the watershed митинг на болотной площади, set in motion a groundswell of protest and gave rise to the vigorous opposition movements which have presented the first serious challenge to Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.
The collection of ephemera related to the 2011 and 2012 Presidential Elections in South Ossetia documents one of many instances in the Commonwealth of Independent States of alleged aggressive anti-democratic practices deployed in the struggle between forces seeking to consolidate power over larger regions, and forces seeking to establish more local independence. Moscow’s support of South Ossetia in its 2008 effort to establish independence from Georgia was largely viewed as part of a larger project to reëstablish Russia’s political dominance over the other Former Soviet Republics. The 2011 Presidential contest in South Ossetia, which ultimately came down to a race between the presumedly pro-Russian candidate Anatolii Bibilov and the dark horse former Minister of Education Alla Dzhioeva, was judged to be so pervasively corrupted that the following year there was a second election in which all of the 2011 candidates were barred from running.
The 2012 Parliamentary Elections in the Ukraine collection documents one in a long series of episodes in the struggle between West-facing Ukrainian forces and Moscow’s push to reassert dominance over the Ukraine and prevent it from forming stronger relations with Western Europe as an independent entity, a struggle spanning from the 2004 Presidential Elections and the ensuing Orange Revolution, to the increasingly violent struggle currently playing out on the streets of Kiev. International observers for the most part judged that electoral regulations had been respected in the 2012 Elections and that the process had been fair and its results valid, but there were extra-procedural circumstances which seemed to bespeak a much darker political reality. These circumstances include imputed abuses via law enforcement agencies and other channels, and the fact that former Prime-Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, one of President Viktor Yanukovich’s fiercest opponents, remained incarcerated in what is widely viewed as a political imprisonment.
Document genres represented in the collections range from: official regulatory documents and reports issued by electoral commissions and other government agencies; reports produced by independent observer organizations; promotional materials (fliers, cards, leaflets, calendars, newsletters, posters), financial disclosure statements, legal statements, programmatic statements and other documents and materials issued by parties and candidates (registered and unregistered); texts of speeches and transcripts of interviews given by candidates; complaints filed alleging misconduct and violations of electoral regulations; reports of exit-poll data and public opinion polls; materials produced by opposition and protest groups (fliers, cards, placards, newsletters, pamphlets, booklets); photographs taken at demonstrations and protests; blog posts.
These collections are available to the Princeton community through the East View Universal Database Portal accessible through the Library’s Database List.