Russian gubernatorial candidate Andrei Ishchenko, of the Communist Party, has ended his hunger strike in protest of election authorities of rigging the results in Sunday’s runoff vote for governor of the Primorye region, in the country’s Far East. The hunger strike was called off — at least for now — after officials said they would investigate the vote count. With 95% of the ballots counted, Ishchenko had a 5% lead over the candidate from a pro-Kremlin party. However, a few hours later election officials reported that after all the votes were counted, the Kremlin-backed incumbent Andrei Tarasenko had won.
On Monday, the election commission said Tarasenko had won by just over 1 percentage point, with results showing he had received almost every one of the almost 20,000 final votes counted, an unlikely turnaround that the Communists called evidence of rigging.
Ishchenko spoke Monday to a crowd of almost a thousand in the Pacific port of Vladivostok, 6,400 km east of Moscow, claiming the vote count had been rigged, and urged supporters to protest every evening until the result was overturned.
“At least 30,000 votes were stolen from us,” he told the crowd, saying the results had been rewritten overnight.