Opposition leaders and Russian observers say they are seeing widespread violations in elections that are expected to return Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin. Putin, who was president in 2000-2008, is expected to easily win the Sunday election against four challengers. But if credible evidence of vote manipulation emerges, it would bolster the determination of opposition forces to continue the unprecedented wave of protests that arose in December. Lilia Shibanova of the independent elections watchdog agency Golos said her organization is receiving reports of so-called “carousel voting,” in which busloads of voters are driven around to cast ballots multiple times. Mikhail Kasyanov, who was Putin’s first prime minister and later went into opposition, said “These elections are not free … we will not recognize the president as legitimate.”
Monitored by web cameras and a network of volunteer civilian observers, Russians voted Sunday in presidential elections expected to return Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin. By midday in Moscow, the independent elections watchdog group had recorded more than 1,000 complaints of irregularities across the country, ranging from questionable voter registration lists to nonfunctioning web cameras to buses believed to be carrying so-called “carousel voters” from precinct to precinct. The veracity of the complaints could not immediately be determined, but their large number is likely to bolster opposition supporters’ suspicion that the election was unfair.
Allegations of widespread vote fraud in last December’s parliamentary elections set off an unprecedented wave of massive protests against Putin, who has remained Russia’s paramount leader despite stepping down from president to prime minister four years ago due to term limits.
Full Article: Complaints in Russian election mount – San Jose Mercury News.