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Countdown to election: will the vote be transparent?

Candidates in Russia’s parliamentary election have just hours to canvas for votes, before official campaign silence begins ahead of Sunday’s poll. Millions of Russians are eligible to vote in one of the largest elections in the world.

Eleven parties will compete for 450 seats in the State Duma – the Lower Chamber of the Russian Parliament. An unprecedented three million people are involved in organising the Parliamentary election.

International observers arrive

Meanwhile, most of the invited international observers to monitor the voting have already arrived in the country.

Russia's opposition parties have big hopes for the international observers.

Russia’s top election official called on observers to be watchful and report any violations they see. The commission has even established an award for the most active observers.

However, the invitation of the international observers wasn't without tensions. The OSCE Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Bureau cancelled its monitoring trip, saying the Russian side failed to issue visas for the observers.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the organisation simply failed to understand the correct procedures.

“We have fully fulfilled our commitments resulting from the documents adopted by the OSCE. According to them, every OSCE member-state is obliged to invite international observers to monitor elections. The monitoring should be carried out based on the national legislation of the inviting party. We did everything in strict accordance with the obligation. And it's not clear why head of the office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights unilaterally decided not to send observers although he received a respective invitation,” he said.

Mr. Lavrov added Russia will always fulfil its commitments and the organisation will be invited to monitor the presidential election in Russia in March next year.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin
Russia's President Vladimir Putin
President’s address to the country

Meanwhile, President Putin has made a direct appeal to voters. He called on the electorate to vote with their hearts, but first they’ll have to vote with their feet and actually get to the ballot box.

In a TV address, Putin urged voters to support the United Russia party. He heads the party's list. The President stressed that the election is wide open and without electoral support the governing United Russia party will not be able to continue its successful leadership.

Russian community in U.S. prepares for vote

The Russian community in the U.S. is getting ready to vote in Russia's parliamentary elections on Sunday.

There are at least 30,000 immigrants on the east coast alone who are eligible to vote.  Polling stations will be opened in fourteen major cities.