Russian election: turnout 60%, United Russia leads

Polls have closed in Russia’s parliamentary election. Around 60% of those eligible have reportedly voted in the parliamentary election, which is significantly higher than the figures for the 2003 election. Some votes have been counted, and the first offic

As they left polling stations voters seemed to be excited about the election.

“My entire family came to vote. We think it's crucial, because we are choosing the future both for ourselves and for our children. If we don’t come, who will?” one of the voters said.

“It's crucial that retired people get higher pensions and free medical aid. Also, miners and factory workers should have higher salaries as their jobs are difficult and dangerous,” another voter added.

President Putin has cast his vote together with his wife Ludmila. The President was quick to vote, while Ludmila Putina took her time. It seemed she really thought a lot about who to vote for.

Meanwhile, the first President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, who voted in central Moscow, said he hoped the election would be successful.

Andrey Lugovoy, who is charged in the UK for the murder of former KGB officer Aleksandr Litvinenko, appeared at a polling station with his son. Lugovoy said he is confident that the Liberal Democratic Party, which he joined in September, will enter Russia's State Duma.

Claims of violations

The leader of the Communist Party, Gennady Zuganov, said that his party's observers have reported a number of violations.

Some minor voting infringements have also been reported in Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East, but officials say they were dealt with swiftly.

Meanwhile, one of the opposition leaders, former World chess Champion Garry Kasparov has also voted. Speaking with mostly foreign reporters, Kasparov said that his Other Russia movement had noted numerous examples of fraud.

Andrey Przhezdonsky, a Public Chamber member in charge of electoral rights, has confirmed that some complaints about ballot violations have been received.

“Regarding particular violations, quiz games were organised at some of the stations in the city of Chelyabinsk. In the republic of Bashkortostan, voters complained that observers were not let in, and there were cases where three or four people entered the booth at a time,” Mr Przhezdonsky said before adding: “When we received the complaints we immediately informed the central election committee. So we did our best to react as effectively as we could.”

International observers satisfied

However, a representative from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) observers delegation, Luc Van den Brande, said that so far they are satisfied with the technical procedures of the election and for now they have not registered any technical violations.

According to the Central Election Commission the number of observers is unprecedented, both from abroad and from local political parties, which have sent three million representatives to monitor the election.

There are about 400 international observers from different organisations including PACE, OSCE, the Shanghai Co-Operation Organisation and others.

The CEC say if they manage to work fast enough the official results can be expected as early as next Saturday, December 8. So it's possible that the new State Duma will gather and start its work before the New Year. According to the Constitution the CEC has no more than 30 days after the election day to finalise the results.

For the first time, polling stations have opened in Moscow's airports and railway stations, so people passing through or leaving Moscow will be able to vote. Three airports and seven railway stations are taking part.

Officials say the stations have satisfied all requirements for places for observers, security and press.

During the day, RT correspondents have been reporting on the election from across France, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Middle East and Russia: in the Siberian city of Kemerovo to the Republic of Chechnya in the Caucasus, the Far East, and Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, where many residents have Russian citizenship.