টার Reuters Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin visited the Moscow Public Election Monitoring Center on the second day of a three-day long vote in the Russian parliamentary elections. September 18, 2021.
By Andrew Osborne and Gabriel Tatrolt-Farber
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s ruling United Russia party, which backs President Vladimir Putin, has retained its majority in parliament after three days of elections and widespread crackdowns on its critics, losing nearly one-fifth of its support, showing partial results on Monday.
With a %% count of ballots, the Central Election Commission said United Russia had won about 5% of the vote with its nearest rival, the Communist Party.
Although it amounted to a strong victory, it would be a weaker performance for United Russia than in the last parliamentary elections held in 2016, when the party won by only 54% of the vote.
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has received some support over the years for allegations of poor living standards and corruption, and the strategic vote campaign planned by Navalny’s allies appears to have done more damage.
Critics of the Kremlin said the vote was shameful in any case and that United Russia could have been much worse off in a fair contest, banning Navalny’s movement before the election, barring his allies from moving and targeting critical media and non-governmental organizations. .
The result is unlikely to change the political landscape, with Putin, who has been president or prime minister since Putin, is still in power until the next presidential election in 2024. Putin has not yet said whether he will run in the election.
The 68-year-old leader remains a popular figure among many Russians who credited him with standing in the West and restoring national pride.
Partial results showed the Communist Party in second place, followed by the Nationalist LDPR Party with about 9%. Both sides generally support the Kremlin on key issues.
At a celebration rally at United Russia’s headquarters broadcast on state television, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a close ally of the Russian leader, shouted: “Putin! Putin! Putin!” To the crowd hoisting a flag that echoes his slogan.
Navalny’s allies are serving prison sentences for violating parole, he said, encouraging strategic suffrage against United Russia.
In many cases, they sniffed and advised communists to vote. Authorities tried to block the initiative online.
The Central Election Commission was slow to release data from online voting in Moscow, where United Russia does not pay rent as much as other regions. Prior to the online vote count, pro-Kremlin candidates led by a majority in the city’s 15 districts.
Golus, an election watchdog accused by authorities of being a foreign agent, said it had recorded thousands of violations, including threats against observers and ballot stuffing, examples of which had spread on social media, with some people caught on camera collecting bundles of ballot slips.
The Central Election Commission said it had recorded 12 cases of ballot stuffing in eight constituencies and the results of those polling stations would be canceled.
United Russia’s outgoing State Dumar holds nearly three-quarters of the 5,050 seats. That dominance last year helped the Kremlin pass constitutional changes that would allow Putin to run for two more terms as president after 2024, possibly staying in power until 2036.
Navalny’s allies were barred from running in the election after his movement was banned as an extremist in June. Other dissidents have complained that their dirty tactics were noticed through propaganda.
The Kremlin denies politically motivated campaigns and says individuals are prosecuted for breaking the law. Both it and United Russia have denied any role in the candidate registration process.
“One day we will be in Russia where it will be possible to vote for good candidates through various political platforms,” Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s colleague, wrote in a telegram messenger before the vote closed on Sunday.
A Moscow pensioner who only gave his name as Anatoly said he voted for United Russia because he was proud of Putin’s efforts to restore Russia’s status as a just superpower.
“Countries like the United States and Britain now respect us as much as they respected the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 70s. … Anglo-Saxons only understand the language of power.”
There was also widespread apathy, with official figures showing around 47% voting.
“I don’t see the right to vote,” said a hairdresser in Moscow who gave her name as Irina. “Everything has been decided for us anyway.”