Communists, observers report violations in Duma election

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The head of Russia’s second-largest political party is alleging widespread violations in the election of a new national parliament, in which his party is widely expected to win seats.

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Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov said on Saturday – the second day of three days of voting in the election – that the police and the National Election Commission must respond to reports of “several very serious facts”, including ballot-stuffing in several regions.

The Golos election-monitoring movement and independent media also reported violations, including vote-buying and lax measures to protect ballots at polling stations.


The United Russia party, which is loyal to President Vladimir Putin, is certain to retain dominance in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, but some estimates suggest that it may lose its current two-thirds majority, which would replace the constitution. enough to change. The Communists are expected to take the largest share of any seat lost by United Russia.

Although Communists generally support the Kremlin’s initiative in parliament, securing their seats would be a loss of face for United Russia. The communists are seen as potentially benefiting from a “smart voting” program promoted by the team of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, which aims to undermine United Russia by advising voters on which candidates to vote for major party candidates. are in the strongest position to defeat.

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However, it is unclear how effective the program will be after Apple and Google removed smart voting apps from their stores under pressure from the Kremlin. Authorities had previously blocked access to its website. Navalny’s outfits have been declared extremist, barring anyone associated with him from running for office, eliminating the most significant opposition from the election.

Zyuganov said the party has matched at least 44 incidents of voting violations and that the party has applied for a permit to hold protests during the week after voting ends on Sunday.

On Saturday, news website Znak said a resident of the Moscow region was offering 1,000 rubles ($15) to people who voted for United Russia. The publication said it called the man, who said payment would come if the caller provided proof of his vote via a messaging app.

The Golos movement cited a series of apparent violations from its observers and local news media, including storing ballots overnight in a cabinet with a broken door and opening the envelopes for storing ballots and then was sealed off.

On Friday, the first day of voting, there were unexpectedly long lines at some polling places, and independent media suggested it could show state institutions and companies were forcing employees to vote.

The media in St Petersburg reported suspected cases of “carousel voting”, in which voters cast ballots at several different polling stations. An AP video journalist saw the same voters, believed to be military school students, at two different polling stations; One of them said that the group had earlier gone to the wrong polling station.

A local election commission member posted a video in which a man tried to cast multiple ballots and was then confronted by a polling worker. The man in the video said he had received his ballots at a metro station.


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