Russia Opposition Claims Mass Fraud After Putin Party Sweeps Vote
Sumaira FH 1 month ago Mon 20th September 2021 | 10:40 PM
Moscow, Sept 20 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 20th Sep, 2021 ) :Russia's opposition accused the authorities of mass voter fraud after election results Monday showed the ruling United Russia party winning a sweeping majority in parliament.
The three-day vote that ended on Sunday followed an unprecedented crackdown on critics of President Vladimir Putin and came with pre-election polls showing United Russia's popularity at a historic low.
But the party still claimed a two-thirds majority in the lower house State Duma, with United Russia's Andrei Turchak saying it was a "convincing and clean victory".
Election chief Ella Pamfilova said final turnout was 51 percent, telling Putin in a televised meeting that this was higher than in previous elections and there had been fewer complaints of vote violations than ever before.
Predictions by state-run pollsters had suggested United Russia winning only around 30 percent.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov hailed the "competitiveness, openness and honesty" of the elections, saying it was clear that "United Russia is the main preference of the voters".
Claims of widespread fraud in 2011 sparked huge protests led by Navalny, who was arrested last January and jailed on old fraud charges following a poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin.
Navalny's team had called for opposition supporters to back other candidates who could potentially defeat United Russia, most of them from the Communist Party, and results indicated the "Smart Voting" campaign may have had some impact.
Three other parties appeared to meet the five percent threshold needed to enter parliament -- the nationalist LDPR, the recently formed "New People" party, and "A Just Russia", all with less than 10 percent.
The gathering organised by members of the communist party was monitored by the police but there were no immediate detentions.
"Russia will be free," the crowd chanted, a slogan popularised by Navalny.
Authorities had taken drastic measures to deter the "Smart Voting" campaign, repeatedly shutting down and blocking websites and apps providing lists of candidates with the best hope of defeating Kremlin-aligned politicians.
Critics had argued that online voting, new limits on election observers and the polls being spread over three days -- a move officials said was to reduce coronavirus risks -- all presented opportunities for fraud.
Putin, 68, remains widely popular but United Russia has seen its support drop as living standards have declined following years of economic stagnation.