Iran’s Guardian Council rejected calls to annul the violently contested June 12 presidential election, cementing its stand against the throngs of opposition protesters challenging the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei told state-run English-language Press TV early Tuesday “no major fraud or breach” has been uncovered, despite Monday’s admission by the council that there had been voting irregularities in 50 districts, including final vote tallies that exceeded the number of eligible voters by about 3 million ballots—a discrepancy he dismissed on al Jazeera as “a statistical miscalculation.” Ahmadinejad, Press TV also reports, is due to be sworn in between July 26 and August 19.
Russia—which is helping build a nuclear power plant in Iran, and whose president, Dmitry Medvedev, welcomed Ahmadinejad last week—joined Syria in moving to back the regime, posting a statement on its Foreign Ministry web site Tuesday calling for any electoral disputes to be settled “in strict compliance with Iran’s Constitution and law.” Russia added the election was “exclusively an internal matter”—possibly a swipe at U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who issued a statement Monday calling for “an immediate stop to the arrests, threats, and use of force, and urging the government and the opposition to resolve their differences peacefully through “dialogue and legal means.”
Nonetheless, al Jazeera reports supporters of opposition leader Mir Houssein Mousavi are calling for a general strike ahead of the council’s final vote certification, due on Wednesday, despite threats from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard that it will crush any further protests. As authorities reportedly ordered the family of Neda Soltani, the woman whose shooting death was captured on a cellphone video camera and posted on YouTube over the weekend, to take down mourning posters, Al Jazeera also contributed to her growing martyrology with an audio interview with her fiance; meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal’s Farnaz Fassihi reports the family of another young man killed during protests over the weekend was assessed a $3,000 “bullet fee” to retrieve his body from the morgue.
And, while the State Department is relying on Twitter and Facebook for information—they’re just like us!—Iranians themselves are apparently relying on Israeli shortwave radio broadcasts for information: 69-year-old Menashe Amir, a native Iranian who has hosted an 85-minute show in Farsi daily from Jerusalem for the past five decades, told the Wall Street Journal his call-in lines (routed via Germany) are flooded with requests for assistance from the outside world. “Iranians are thirsty for any information,” Amir said.