Russia opposition claims mass fraud in elections


The ruling party 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

Moscow: Russia’s opposition accused the authorities of mass voter fraud as election results on 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”.

 He told reporters the party had taken 120 seats from the party list and 195 single-mandate seats — a total of 315 seats from 450.

 It was a drop from the 334 seats United Russia held before the election, but still enough for the party to enact major legislation including changes to the constitution.

 With 95 percent of votes counted by 1000 GMT on Monday, United Russia was ahead with 49.6 percent of the vote followed by the Communist Party with 19.2 percent.

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”.

But allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, Russia’s leading opposition figure, called the results outlandish.

“This is truly unbelievable. I remember the feeling in 2011, when they stole the election. The same is happening right now,” said Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh.Claims of widespread fraud in 2011 sparked huge protests led by Navalny, who was arrested in January and jailed on old fraud charges following a poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin.

His allies said the vote was being falsified on a massive scale, pointing especially to repeated delays in releasing the results of electronic voting in opposition-friendly Moscow.The European Union said the elections had suffered from intimidation and limited “credible” monitoring, while Germany called for fraud claims to be “clarified”.

Navalny’s organisations were banned as “extremist” ahead of the election and his top allies were arrested or fled and anyone associated with his groups was kept from running.