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.”
Voters went to the polls to elect different layers of local and regional government in almost all the country’s regions, with the largest cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg among the few not to vote. Most local and regional governments in Russia are dominated by the ruling United Russia party, a situation that appeared unlikely to change in the polls.
Observers and opposition politicians standing for election reported numerous violations including groups of people voting multiple times and the stuffing of ballot boxes. Russia’s Golos vote monitor on Sunday evening showed more than 800 reported violations on its map of complaints submitted online.