Courageous Election Monitor

How much pressure would it take to get you or me to rig election results? Hopefully we won’t need to find out. But Tatyana Ivanova knows: She can’t be intimidated.

Tatyana is a teacher  in Russia who also enjoyed working as an election monitor until she was asked to inflate the vote count for Putin’s United Russia. She was offered a bribe seven times her official compensation. When she declined to do so, she was brought before the education official in charge of her school and told she needed to get an extra 200 votes.

Her reply: “Not a single parliamentary deputy is worth my imprisonment.”

“Fine,” they said, “Someone else would do it, but you keep your eyes closed.”

Instead Tatyana kept an eagle eye on the ballot box. Her reward: Her principal was pressured to not give her an annual bonus. She liked the principal and quit to protect her from further pressure. She took her story to the newspapers. Thirteen school principals wrote an open letter criticizing her. She stood strong. A citizens group, The League of Voters, has published her case and offered legal assistance.

The twist to this story that I find interesting is that Tatyana will still vote for Putin. “I still believe in him” she said.

So Tatyana could refuse to be complicit in fraud while still supporting both her principal and Putin. It is a noteworthy example of the variety of choices one can make when confronted with an ethical situation.  Neither courage nor ethical stances need be absolute to make a difference.

Do you have a story of a time you took a stance that drew attention to an unethical situation even if you couldn’t turn around the whole situation?

Read about Tatyana and her story in The Washington Post, February 28, 2012

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