In local and regional elections marked by low voter turnout and fresh allegations of polling fraud, Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party claimed a landslide victory on Sunday. Putin’s allies preserved their seats in all five of the regional governor’s jobs up for a vote. And United Russia won most of the 4,848 local legislative seats and referendums up for a vote in 77 regions, according to preliminary returns. Some observers called the results a political comeback for the Kremlin party after a poor showing in the national parliamentary election held last December, when it won less than 50% of the vote amid widespread accusations of massive electoral manipulation. Putin thanked voters on Monday. “For me, the results of the vote are not unexpected,” he said in televised remarks. “I think it one more step confirming the voters’ intent to support the current authorities and the development of the Russian statehood.”
Articles about voting issues in the Russian Federation.
Scandals at the recent parliamentary and presidential elections in Russia failed to discourage the authorities from meddling with the polls, with Sunday’s regional elections fraught with violations, an independent watchdog said Monday. About 850 violations were reported by vote monitors at the regional polls that took place in 77 of 83 Russian regions on Sunday, electoral watchdog Golos said. Main electioneering tricks include obstructing the work of vote monitors, abuse of absentee ballots and multiple voting, the group’s deputy executive director, Grigory Melkonyants, told a press conference in Moscow. These vote rigging tactics are “shamelessly used wherever needed in a blatant and explicit way,” he said. United Russia carried all five gubernatorial polls and won majorities in all seven regional legislatures to undergo a revamp on Sunday.
President Vladimir Putin’s ruling party decisively swept regional elections, according to results tabulated Monday, paradoxically confronting his top-down authoritarian system with a serious challenge. Since December’s parliamentary vote, when large numbers of demonstrators unexpectedly began protesting rigged elections, Putin and his allies have been trying to regain what had been an undisputed grip on power. Sunday’s election would appear to confirm they had done so. The United Russia party won all five governorships at stake and dominated all six regional legislatures up for election, along with a host of municipal councils and mayoralties. Yet political observers called it an illusory victory because serious challengers were kept off the ballot, either through the inventive use of election laws or by secret deals. That meant Putin opponents found no outlet at the polls for their anger. “If the party of power continues playing games with imitation elections,” said Boris Makarenko, an independent political analyst, “the opposition will have to challenge them on the streets instead of at the polls.” Makarenko, chairman of the board of the Center for Political Technologies, said it was in United Russia’s interest to work for political pluralism, to determine the country’s direction through elections. But he was unsure, he said, whether authorities understood that.
On October 14, the regional elections are to take place in 77 regions of Russia. More than 57,000 candidates will be running for different posts in the regional and municipal governing bodies. It is expected that about 28 million Russians will come to polling stations. It will be possible to monitor the elections via the Internet. Many polling stations will be equipped with electronic ballot boxes. What makes the election unique is an unprecedented number of new political parties, which are to take part in it: 25 instead of only 4-7 parties, as it was before.
Russians are electing regional and municipal leaders today in the first electoral test for President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to reassert control after the largest protests in more than a decade. In Russia’s first gubernatorial elections in eight years and about 5,000 other polls, contenders backed by the ruling United Russia party may suffer setbacks in at least 10 mayoral and local legislative elections, the Carnegie Moscow Center projects. Governing-party candidates are leading by double-digit margins in all five gubernatorial races, according to the Civil Society Development Fund. Putin, who handed the chairmanship of the United Russia party to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev a year ago, is struggling to reverse a slump in approval ratings that are near the lowest level since mass protests broke out in December. A crackdown has since ensued, including prosecution of opposition activists and leaders, increased fines for unsanctioned rallies and tightened controls over the Internet.
The ruling United Russia party won elections around the country on Sunday, early results showed, but opponents alleged widespread violations in the voting that will preserve President Vladimir Putin’s dominance. The first big elections since Putin began a new six-year term in May will do little to appease opponents who say he has used election fraud and suppression of dissent to maintain his grip on power. Results from contests from the Baltic Sea to Kamchatka on the Pacific Ocean showed United Russia had won or was heading for victory in all five provincial governorship races, and in several votes for provincial and city legislatures.
Kremlin-backed candidates dominated Russia’s first gubernatorial elections in eight years, which were reinstated by President Vladimir Putin to quell the discontent that fueled the biggest protests in a decade. The ruling United Russia party’s candidates won all five races for governor and six local legislative contests, according to preliminary results announced today by officials from local election commissions on state television channel Rossiya 24. Voter turnout was low, dipping below 8 percent in the Primorsky region on the country’s Pacific coast. The election was the first major electoral test for Putin since he reclaimed the presidency in May and thousands of protesters took to the streets following a December parliamentary ballot the opposition said was rigged. The Kremlin winnowed the contenders in gubernatorial elections by using a so-called municipal filter to screen candidates, while the heads of at least 20 of Russia’s 83 regions were replaced or reappointed before legislative changes went into effect.
Russians on Sunday voted to elect governors and mayors in the first such polls since President Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin, as observers complained of numerous and egregious violations. The government was quick to dismiss claims of voting irregularities, with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev late Sunday saying the polls had been carried out in a “civilised manner”. ”As far as I know, nobody found any serious irregularities,” Medvedev said. ”This gives hope that in the future, elections will be held in the same civilised and democratic manner.”
Russians in a number of regions go the polls on Sunday to elect governors, mayors and provincial legislatures in what was once seen as a critical test for the opposition. Its leaders had hoped at least some victories would provide a political foothold to harness the public displeasure with Vladimir Putin’s return as president that prompted mass protests in December. That’s not going to happen thanks to a campaign by the authorities to strong-arm, cajole and undermine opposition candidates that has forced them back into the political margin. One of the candidates became a prominent opposition leader by launching a movement to stop the felling of parkland trees outside Moscow to make way for a highway. Now running for mayor of her suburb, Yevgenia Chirikova says she is the victim of a plot to stop her from winning. The 35-year-old businesswoman is running third, behind the incumbent and a heavy metal rocker with Kremlin ties who says he would cut down the forest because it’s “dirty.” He’s accused the United States of bankrolling the opposition, a common claim by officials. While it’s undeniable that the protests reflected a change among many who were frustrated and humiliated by the Kremlin’s authoritarianism, they didn’t mean the country had irrevocably changed. Making bold proclamations to that effect is the opposition’s job. Others would be well-advised to heed an unchanging pattern in Putin’s governance since his rise to power a dozen years ago.
Three candidates running for mayor in the Moscow region town of Khimki announced Tuesday that they will withdraw from the high-profile race, one of dozens of local and regional elections slated for Sunday that include the first gubernatorial elections since 2005. Igor Belousov, a former Khimki deputy mayor who became an opposition supporter, said he has decided to quit the race and back acting Mayor Oleg Shakhov, who is supported by the ruling United Russia party. Also exiting the race is Yury Babak, a candidate from the obscure Cities of Russia party who said he would also support Shakhov. The third person to abandon his candidacy Tuesday was Alexander Romanovich of the Just Russia party. Without elaborating, Romanovich said actions by the regional administration were preventing him from running a proper campaign, the party said in a statement.