President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party claimed a clear victory in legislative and regional elections plagued by numerous voting fraud allegations after an extraordinary crackdown on observers and opposition candidates, Moscow Times writes.
According to Interfax, Andrei Turchak, United Russia’s general council secretary, informed reporters that the party has gained 315 seats in the 450-seat State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, as of early Monday.
Despite losing 21 members during the three-day voting session that began Friday, United Russia will be able to carry out Putin’s policy objectives unimpeded for the next five years because of its two-thirds supermajority.
By noon on Monday, 90 percent of the ballots had been tallied, with United Russia leading with almost 50 percent, followed by the Communist Party with nearly 20 percent. The turnout was fewer than half of the total number of eligible voters.
Scores of Communist Party members benefited from the supporters of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, whose electoral network was labeled “extremist” before the poll and allies barred from voting.
Navalny’s team released a list of 1,234 registered candidates last week, urging fans to vote for them in order to have the greatest chance of unseating incumbents from United Russia.
Under pressure from the Kremlin, Google, Google-owned YouTube, and Apple removed Navalny’s suggestions as voting began, causing anger among activists and observers.
Three other parties, including the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), the rebuilt social-democratic A Just Russia, and the upstart New People, passed the 5 percent electoral barrier required to win Duma seats, according to the poll findings.
All four parties are regarded to be part of Russia’s “systemic opposition,” a phrase that refers to groups that do not offer a significant threat to the Kremlin in return for the right to participate on the country’s unequal political playing field.
Despite hundreds of videos uploaded on social media showing suspected vote stuffing, vanishing ink, and ballot boxes with hidden doors and unsealable seals, Turchak claimed the party has not identified major breaches that might influence election results.
The Central Election Commission of Russia said late Sunday that just 12 instances of vote stuffing had been verified throughout the nation. The independent election-monitoring NGO Golos, which Russian officials banned as a “foreign agency” before the poll, reported almost 5,000 irregularities.
“The triumph of United Russia in the State Duma elections was clean and honest,” the party stated in a statement posted on its website.
On Monday, the Kremlin repeated similar remarks.
“The competition, transparency, and honesty of the elections were and continue to be the most significant factors for the president,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.