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Nationwide local elections wind up in Russia after weeks of Moscow protests

Nationwide local elections wind up in Russia after weeks of Moscow protests
People across Russia have cast their votes in Sunday’s elections to fill seats in local parliaments and executive bodies. Most attention was on the Moscow council vote, which was plagued by opposition rallies in recent weeks.

From the Far East to the most western Kaliningrad region, voters were making their choices of municipal council members, mayors and governors in 85 regions and cities. Yet the most closely watched race was in Moscow, where voters were to elect the 45-seat legislature that will run the capital during the next five years.

The vote in Moscow comes on the heels of opposition to the contentious procedure, after election officials had disqualified numerous candidates, for misdeeds such as failing to declare overseas properties and for presenting signatures of deceased or non-existent voters in order to achieve eligibility to appear on the ballot papers.

The ban saw tens of thousands of Muscovites join sanctioned and unsanctioned protests, which have been taking place almost every weekend since the disqualifications.

Some of the rallies ended up in clashes and police made over 2,000 detentions during unauthorized protests in late July and early August. Most of the detainees were promptly released, but a number of them were charged with attacking officers and disrupting public safety.

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The voting day itself was without incident, even though law enforcement agencies had been put on alert.

By Sunday evening there were two complaints about election interference out of 142 issues reported during the voting process, the central election commission said. Most complaints regarded people failing to find themselves on voter lists.

There were reports on social media about violations by various activists, but these can't be independently verified. The Civic Chamber also said that it had failed to detect any “significant” violations during Election Day.

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The online voting system, which was tested in Moscow, experienced technical problems on two occasions on Sunday and had to be briefly shut down. Authorities confirmed that no ballots had been lost due to the glitches. However, around 200 attempts were made to exploit the malfunctions and submit votes without proper registration. They were averted.

The police have also launched a probe into a female member of a local election commission being sprayed with green dye in the city of Volgograd.

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