Russia’s Far East region has cancelled the result of a runoff governorship vote in an unprecedented move after claims of vote-rigging in favour of a candidate backed by President Vladimir Putin triggered protests. A local electoral commission took the decision on Thursday after Russia’s election chief Ella Pamfilova on Wednesday recommended re-running the vote. The crisis erupted in the Far Eastern region of Primorsky Krai where an opposition candidate accused a ruling party representative endorsed by Putin of “stealing” his victory in the vote last Sunday.
Articles about voting issues in the Russian Federation.
A regional election in Russia’s Far East will be re-run, the local election commission said on Thursday, dealing a rare blow to the Kremlin after allegations the vote had been rigged in its candidate’s favor. The ruling, in Russia’s Primorsky Region which includes the Pacific port of Vladivostok, 6,400 km (4,000 miles) east of Moscow, came a day after Russia’s top election official recommended that the election be re-run. Ella Pamfilova, head of the Central Election Commission, had not accused the Kremlin-backed candidate, Andrei Tarasenko, of orchestrating the vote-rigging, but had said that a raft of irregularities had been identified, including ballot stuffing and vote buying.
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.
Russia: ‘Miraculous’ election win for Kremlin-backed candidate causes protests in Russia’s far-east | The Independent
Even by Russian election standards – the kind that has given us 146 per cent voter turnouts – this was a magical turnaround. With 95 per cent of the votes counted in the gubernatorial elections in Russia’s far east Primorsky Krai, the Kremlin’s United Russia candidate, Andrei Tarasenko, was a full five points behind his challenger, Communist Andrei Ishchenko. But in a sensational final sprint, Mr Tarasenko added an improbable 13,000 votes, equating to nearly 100 per cent of the vote in the last 1 per cent of precincts. Even more miraculous was the fact his challenger Mr Ishchenko lost five votes in the process. Just days earlier, Mr Tarasenko received a personal endorsement from President Vladimir Putin. “I know you have a run-off coming up. I think everything is going to be fine,” Mr Putin said.
Kremlin opponents across Russia took to the streets on Sunday to protest planned hikes to the retirement age, just as authorities were holding regional elections on the same day. Hundreds took part in the demonstrations across 25 towns and cities, including in Moscow and in St. Petersburg. The protests were called by opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, who is currently serving a 30-day jail sentence in connection with an unrelated protest back in January. Around 50 of his supporters were arrested ahead of Sunday’s rallies, although that failed to stop them from going ahead. Another 150 people were arrested at the various protests, according to independent monitoring group OVD-Info.
On March 18, 2018, Russians reelected President Vladimir Putin by a huge margin. Official reports say that 67 percent of voters went to the polls and that 76 percent of those supported the incumbent. This result comes as zero surprise, and media coverage has focused on the lack of true opposition candidates and allegations of ballot-stuffing. But there is more to this story. About 800,000 poll workers at more than 95,000 polling stations across Russia delivered basic administrative services for this election. This army of street-level bureaucrats verified voter identities, issued/counted the ballots and established the voting tallies at each precinct. How did Sunday’s election look, behind the scenes? We tend to assume that poll workers, whether they are in South Dakota or the Northern Caucasus, are professional and independent. Put simply, we expect poll workers to leave aside their political biases and ensure that voting takes place according to fair and impartial procedures.
As expected, Vladimir Putin was reelected Sunday with a reported 76 percent of the vote, outpacing his nearest competitor by more than 60 points. The next morning, Ella Pamfilova, head of Russia’s Central Election Commission, claimed that the contest was one of Russia’s cleanest, with about half as many complaints of irregularities as in the 2012 presidential contest. But irregularities were still numerous. As Russians filed in and out of polling stations Sunday, reports and videos of attacks on election monitors and blatant ballot stuffing littered social media feeds. The videos came from Moscow, the Far East, Chechnya and Dagestan — among other places. So blatant were some of these acts that the results from several of these stations were annulled.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said on Monday there had been no real choice in Russia’s presidential election and complained it had been marked by unfair pressure on critical voices. “Choice without real competition, as we have seen here, is not real choice,” the OSCE said in a statement, adding that restrictions on fundamental freedoms, as well as on candidate registration, had limited the space for political engagement. The OSCE gave its verdict after President Vladimir Putin won 76.69 percent of vote in a landslide re-election victory on Sunday, extending his rule over the world’s largest country for another six years. Putin’s critics, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was barred from running in the race, said there had been widespread fraud and that observers had seen people being bussed to polling stations by their own employers.
Days before Russia’s presidential elections, police are trying to seize documents that give activist observers access to polling stations and a leading elections watchdog has unexpectedly seen its office lease revoked. “You shouldn’t hold this event here or you’ll have trouble,” Roman Udot, a representative for the independent Golos Association elections watchdog, said his landlord was told by police before they ripped up the contract. The “event” was a call centre to field reports of election violations. The government denies interfering. Russia’s short, frustrating and listless presidential campaign is grinding to its inevitable conclusion. Even Vladimir Putin hardly seems enthused, devoting less than two minutes to a final campaign speech in Crimea, the peninsula he annexed from Ukraine in 2014 to domestic acclaim and international condemnation.
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s longest-serving ruler since Joseph Stalin, surprised no one with his landslide re-election on Sunday. While his victory, in which he claimed 73.9 percent of the vote according to state-run exit polls, was a foregone conclusion, the Kremlin was reportedly anxious about turnout, and conducted an elaborate, well-financed get-out-the-vote campaign. For an authoritarian regime in which election results and turnout are pre-ordained, such concerns may seem odd. But even in Russia’s “managed democracy,” appearances still matter, and the Kremlin needed to present believably high levels of support to ensure Putin’s mandate. Shortly after polling centers closed on Sunday night, Putin appeared to be on target to achieve the desired 65 percent turnout. But even more important for Putin is that this election marked the culmination of his nearly two-decades-long project to control information in Russia and manipulate Russian society. Now, Putin has proven beyond any doubt that the Russia he has built is his and his alone.