Monday 26 September 2016

Russian elections: Putin-backed party sweeps to victory amid allegations of election fraud

One video apparently shows official stuffing ballots into box

Harriet Agerholm

Published 19/09/2016 | 14:27

The ruling United Russia party, which is backed by Vladimir Putin, is on track to win 343 of 450 seats in Russia’s lower house of parliament.

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With 90 per cent of the vote counted, the pro-Kremlin party had 54 per cent of the vote for the 225 seats chosen nationwide by party list, the Central Elections Commission said.

The three parties who were the next most popular – the Communist Party, The Liberal Democrats and the Just Russia Party – all support Mr Putin.

However, there have been multiple reports of voting fraud and videos have surfaced of apparent ballot stuffing.

One video shows an official appearing to take a pile of ballots and shoving them into the voting box while another person seems to stand guard.

Election monitoring groups received reports throughout the day of voting fraud.

Monitoring company Golos said they had received floods of reports of vote-rigging but there was little it could do through official channels.

“We don’t have any way to fight it through law enforcement agencies or through courts but we fight violation through attracting public attention,” Roman Udot, co-chair of Golos told the BBC.

Liberal opposition parties appear to have failed to meet the 5 per cent threshold required for party-list representation. Yet, earlier exit polls suggest they could still get seats in individual constituencies.

The election result is not surprising – the controversial leader was widely expected to maintain his grip on the country. He has now held power, either as a president or prime minister, for 17 years.

But accusations of vote-rigging after the last election in 2011 caused mass street protests against the leader in Moscow.

There has been a concerted effort to make this election appear more honest than the last. A well known human rights campaigner, Ella Pamfilova, was appointed as deputy chairman of the Russian Central Election Commission.

Ms Pamilova declared this parliamentary election was entirely legitimate.

Meanwhile, protests erupted in Crimea as, for the first time, Russia opened voting to those in the territory it annexed in 2014.

Anti-Russian Ukrainians attacked those going to vote in the Russian embassy, demonstrating heightened tensions in a fiercely divided area.

Independent News Service

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