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20 Sep, 2021 12:35

Speaker of Russian parliament hails elections as ‘transparent’ despite Communists’ complaints, says support for Putin behind win

Speaker of Russian parliament hails elections as ‘transparent’ despite Communists’ complaints, says support for Putin behind win

As Russia's largest opposition party calls for an inquiry into electronic voting in the capital, the country's top parliamentarian has insisted that the competition in nationwide elections over the weekend was fair and robust.

As the final votes were counted on Monday, the speaker of the country's parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, said that past weeks had seen “probably one of the most competitive election campaigns in recent times.” According to him, “the success of United Russia is down to support for President Vladimir Putin.” With almost all polling precincts results in, the party of government appears set to retain its constitutional two-thirds 'supermajority’ in the Duma.

However, the largest opposition grouping, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), saw a significant rise in its support, winning about a fifth of the vote, and is expected to secure an increase in its seats. In Moscow, its leader, Gennady Zyuganov, said that electronic voting – being trialed in the capital and several other areas – appeared to be disproportionately skewed in favor of United Russia, sparking allegations that it had been rigged. Residents who registered to vote from their computer or smartphone were entered into a ballot and could stand to win prizes including cars and apartments, in what officials said was an effort to boost turnout.

Zyuganov launched an appeal to the city's mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, saying that the party would not recognize the results, and arguing that “we will ask for an expert investigation of the facts, because this can't be allowed to stand, especially in our nation's capital.” However, requests for rallies of KPRF supporters have since been rejected by Sobyanin's office, citing rules in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

According to Volodin, one of Putin's most ardent supporters and a steadfast ally of the Kremlin in parliament, these advances bolstered the legitimacy of the election, rather than undermined it. “The level of technology innovation made these elections transparent, and openness was maximized,” he said. In addition to online voting, polling stations also had cameras installed and live feeds were broadcast to enable observers to monitor them for attempts to manipulate the result.

However, the chair of the country's Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, hit out at local officials in the southern city of Pyatigorsk after a mop was placed in front of a camera for several minutes, obscuring its view. “This is the height of cynicism and arrogance and self-confidence,” she said. “We must act immediately and dismiss the Chairman, as well as referring the case to law enforcement and canceling any results we can there.”

Also on rt.com Putin's party declares victory in Russian elections, insists it will retain two-thirds majority after polls show opposition gains

Pamfilova also ordered the dismissal of the head of the local election commission in another southern city, Stavropol, after officials said that “voting procedure was grossly violated and it is now not possible to establish the results of voters expressing their will.”

United Russia defied some predictions to secure around half of the vote across the country, and Andrey Turchak, the secretary of the party's general council, said on Monday morning that it expected to keep its constitutional majority in the Duma.

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