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Losers count cost as fairness debate rages on

United Russia has won two thirds of the seats in the Russian State Duma, though the official results are yet to be declared. For those parties that received less than 3% of the votes, losing is also a heavy blow on their wallets. Meanwhile, debate continu

The new-look Duma

The official numbers are due no later than December 11, but are expected to be released a few days earlier.

The preliminary results given by Russia’s Central Election Committee show that the United Russia party will have 315 out of 450 seats in the State Duma, giving it a massive constitutional majority. The Communists will get 57, and the remaining 78 seats will be divided almost equally between the Liberal Democrats and Fair Russia. 

Coalition talks are already believed to be taking place behind closed doors.

It is widely rumoured that Fair Russia party might merge with United Russia. It has also been suggested that several leaders of the opposition coalition, the Other Russia, have called for party leaders, like Communist Gennady Zyuganov, to refuse their mandates in order to demand a re-run of the election.

According to the Russian Constitution, party members are not allowed to change factions once the State Duma is formed.  

Was the vote fair?

Some international observers and government officials have said the election was free and no serious violations occurred. Others, however, said they were worried by what they had seen.

Moscow meanwhile dismissed allegations by the European observers that the vote was unfair, but said it will look into any allegations of violations made by them.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russia

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that it viewed the allegations of violations as comments relating more to the problems of the countries and governments whose representatives were in Russia rather than to the parliamentary election directly.

Germany was among the first to criticise. The Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said he deeply regretted that OSCE election monitors weren't able to inspect the election process from the start, as they had done in previous years.

“There was only short-term monitoring by members of the parliamentary OSCE committee,” Steinmeier said. “And indeed accusations have been made that the election did not take place according to OSCE principles. I expect Russia to look into all these accusations,” he added. 

Washington said that it would not comment on the election until a full report made by the Russian side and international observers is available.

Meanwhile, the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said United Russia's election victory was beyond doubt, despite reports that the poll may not have come up to European standards.

“The election confirms the very strong position that President Putin holds in the country and, despite some violations that might have occurred, it seems to be the choice of Russians. I don’t see any reason to question it,” he said.

Winners take all

Representatives of United Russia, along with leaders of the Young Guards, the party’s young wing, addressed a celebration rally on Manezhnaya Square, next to the Kremlin in central Moscow.  Delegates congratulated party members on their success in the election.  A concert has been organised to celebrate what they call ‘Putin’s victory’.

The 'Young Guards' celebrate victory in  
            the centre of Moscow
The 'Young Guards' celebrate victory in the centre of Moscow

But, for those parties that got less than 3% of the votes, losing is also a heavy blow on the parties’ wallets. They will have to pay up to 100 million rubles – more than $US 4 million – to the state budget.

According to the legislature such parties must pay nearly 32 million rubles for the air time provided to them during the campaigning.

They'll also lose the 60 million rubles paid as an election deposit. 

In the long run the outsider-parties will have to live without state support, with financial aid of five rubles proposed for every vote gained in the election.