Police detain a demonstrator in Moscow as thousands rallied to protest Russian elections. (Sergei L. Loiko, Los Angeles Times / December 5, 2011)

Today’s New York Times reports:

Western election monitors said on Monday that they had observed blatant fraud, including the brazen stuffing of ballot boxes, in the parliamentary elections that delivered surprisingly big losses to United Russia, the party led by Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin.

The video below was taken by a Russian citizen who suspected that an election official was trying to discretely mark ballots.  Posted with the video was an explanation in Russian; according to Google Translate, it says:

Electoral fraud in the polling station number 2501! Chairman of the commission fills the ballot! Article 142 of the Criminal Code: Falsifying election documents, documents of the referendum) is certainly incorrect counting of votes or knowingly incorrect determination of the election, referendum, violating the secrecy of voting, if these acts were committed by a member of the Election Commission, the initiative group or referendum commission – punishable by a fine from five hundred to seven hundred times the minimum wage or salary or other income for a period of five to seven months, or imprisonment for a term of four years.

Looks like democracy is still a hope and not yet a reality in the former totalitarian country.  But then again, does anyone really believe that Putin has any profound convictions about seeing Russia become a moral, ethical, open, free democracy?